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Lenora St. Blog

2024 Syvilla Fort Scholars

Cornish College of the Arts is thrilled to announce the recipients of the 2024 Syvilla Fort Scholarship, an esteemed award honoring the legacy of the legendary dancer and choreographer Syvilla Fort. This scholarship, established to support BIPOC students, is a testament to Fort’s groundbreaking contributions to the world of dance and her commitment to nurturing the next generation of artists and creatives. After careful consideration, we are proud to introduce the exceptional individuals who have been selected for this prestigious honor are Dahyun Kim, Ava Moton, and Salma Zenia. Their passion, dedication, and talent embody the spirit of Syvilla Fort, and we are excited to see how they will continue to shape the future of dance.

Dahyun Kim

Artist Bio:
Born in US and raised in South Korea, I grew up in mix of both cultures. I started art in middle school and made my first short film in high school. As I study different mediums such as wood and metal fabrication in Cornish, I aim to be a new media artist.

Film major – Class of 2027

Describe what receiving this scholarship means to you:
As an immigrant family from South Korea, I know going to an art school means a lot of financial risks. Yet, my parents support my passion and say they want me to live life without regrets. This means a lot to me, and receiving the Syvilla Fort Scholarship will help me carry this great financial responsibility that follows the artistic paths I have chosen. I want to continue education at Cornish to create something new. I believe that I have a lot to achieve in my life, and receiving this scholarship will be a great assistance.

How will you carry on Syvilla Fort’s legacy at Cornish?
Ever since I came from South Korea in elementary school, I still stutter when I speak English. It is still not in my comfort zone when I’m trying to communicate with people in the US, and I often get completely lost in conversations and have to ask again what people are saying. In school, I struggled having discussions and doing presentations. Life in America still makes me feel a definite disconnection. Though I am not a dancer, I’ve found myself in similarity with Syvilla Fort’s struggles. I could imagine how brave she must have been to pave the road for African-American community of dance in such a white-dominated field. I admired how she embraced the style of her ancestors and created a new vision for the dancing she loved. From her stories of passion, I learned an important lesson: the only way for me to pursue what I really love is to embrace my insecurity and be proud of it. I will carry on Syvilla Fort’s legacy by creating art that does not shy away from talking about my background, my pain, and my shameful inside. To do this, I want to work in new media art to share my stories. I wish to push the boundary of filmmaking from traditional production, and create new genre. Ultimately, my goal is to have my own exhibition show in the future. I want to achieve something great in my life.

Share a story of accomplishment or proud experience you have had while at Cornish College of the Arts:
Throughout the first two semesters, I have worked with significant effort as a filmmaker that inspired other artists in the community. To start, I have successfully directed many group film projects. For instance, I’ve directed the whole class as a crew for my first PSA film project at Cornish, One Thing You Didn’t Know (2023), which got nominated and premiered for the ETHOS Film Festival in Santa Monica. Later, I have directed many short film assignments that have shown me as a creative thinker who pushes the limit of their resources. I took an opportunity to work with a student in ballet class and incorporated printmaking skills in my experimental shorts, Parentheses (2023) and Melancholia (2023). Those films have been presented at notable events in Cornish, including the DIY Showcase and the Cornish Final Film Showcase. Furthermore, my music video project, DEEP FAKE (2024), was shown in Limbo Showcase and selected to premiere at Shoreline Short Short Film Festival.

Ava Moton

Artist Bio:
I am an aspiring animator and illustrator currently finishing my first year at Cornish. With a lifelong passion for animated storytelling, I am driven by my dream to become a visual development artist, with a mission to add greater diversity to characters in animated media and enhance the vibrant world of storytelling in the industry. Over the years, I’ve honed my skills through practice and exploration, developing a keen eye for detail and a deep appreciation for the power of visual expression. Exploring personality, expression, and movement, I find joy in breathing life into new and diverse characters, each with their own unique story to tell.

Animation major – Class of 2027

Describe what receiving this scholarship means to you:
Being awarded this scholarship is a wonderful honor. Not only does it provide me with financial support, but it also validates my enthusiasm and commitment to animation and illustration, which means the world to me. I feel empowered to pursue my artistic aspirations with renewed determination and gratitude. Thank you for your support and faith in my ability to succeed as an artist.

How will you carry on Syvilla Fort’s legacy at Cornish?
Syvilla was a storyteller. She also taught a generation of dance artists who went on to be in modern productions, and now are teaching the next generation. There is nothing I want more in the animation business to be as wonderful a storyteller and a teacher for the next generation. Moreover, I am committed to using my platform as a Syvilla Fort Scholar to advocate for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion within the fine arts community. I aspire to establish environments where artists from diverse backgrounds can feel free to tell their experiences and shine on stage through cooperative projects, outreach programs, and mentorship programs.

Share a story of accomplishment or proud experience you have had while at Cornish College of the Arts:
One of my proudest moments at Cornish was working on my first animation class project—a big but straightforward and original storyboarding project. It was tremendously enjoyable to craft the tale and characters, with their various settings, sound effects, reactions, actions, etc. Seeing the excitement and great feedback from my classmates and family’s reaction to the finished product filled me with satisfaction, making me feel like the dream is beginning to turn into reality.

Salma Zenia

Artist Bio:
Salma Zenia is a violinist, improviser, and composer. Salma is currently based in Seattle, WA while she studies contemporary violin performance and composition at Cornish College of the Arts.

Music major – Class of 2026

Describe what receiving this scholarship means to you:
It is a great pleasure and humbling honor to be awarded the Syvilla Fort Scholarship. Receiving this scholarship will significantly contribute to achieving my educational and artistic career goals while lessening the financial burden I have endured. Being the first generation black woman to attend college out of my family and with zero support besides my own merit, this scholarship ensures to me that Cornish College of the Arts is willing to invest in me as much as I am in them. I am passionate about my craft just as Syvilla Fort was and I am committed to breaking the barriers that have previously confined me and other artists of color by actively performing and creating works that advocate for the advancement of racial diversity and inclusion in the Arts. In addition, I am dedicated to contributing to the community of artists at Cornish and within the city of Seattle, from various disciplines, by influencing and inspiring generations to come.

How will you carry on Syvilla Fort’s legacy at Cornish?
Playing the violin has always been the only option I’ve had to break the generational and social confines presented to me being born an African American woman. Against all odds, I have learned to overcome adversity and remained consistent with learning, which is what has led me to where I am now. I have forged my own path just as Syvilla Fort did and have remained dedicated and resilient to pursuing the dreams I feel so vividly in my heart and mind. I’m honored to be granted the opportunity to illuminate Syvilla Fort’s spirit and legacy. With such a great privilege would come the responsibility to make sure every step I take along the way of my journey is honest, has purposeful intention and reference similar to the steps that Syvilla took when gracing the halls of Cornish.

Share a story of accomplishment or proud experience you have had while at Cornish College of the Arts:
I’m deeply appreciative of being recognized for my artistic dedication and abilities. I hope to continue to excel in my pursuits and positively contribute to the vibrant community at Cornish.

 

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