The Eli Award — established in 2018 — is presented to a person or department at Yale University involved in the expansive New Haven Promise internship program, a principal partner to Yale’s New Haven Community Hiring Initiative.
And the 2019 recipient — the Yale Center for British Art — jumped into the New Haven Promise hiring initiative with both feet back in 2015 and has since hired 22 scholars for 35 internships over the last five years. That includes students from five of the Yale Hiring Initiative’s target neighborhoods — Dixwell, Dwight, Fair Haven, Fair Haven Heights and Newhallville.
Roseanne Fabrizio, the Human Resource Manager at the center has been a driving force behind the hiring of so many scholars as she advocates, markets and promotes the students for both internships and full-time positions, which includes the hiring of two scholars into full-time museum technician roles in recent years. Both Kyle Kearson and Isaac Bloodworth are graduates of the art programs at the University of Connecticut and have folded back into the art communities in New Haven with the support of their positions. In fact, Kearson serves on the board of directors at Artspace, the largest non-profit art gallery in the city.
After earning a fine arts degree in sculpture, Kearson — a prime example of what Promise is about — hit the ground running by serving an eight-week internship in the summer of 2016 and turning it into a full-time position later that year. It also affirmed his decision to switch majors from engineering to arts.
“I’ve always been creative and passionate about the arts,” he said. “I was initially planning on a job that was reliable and a money-making job, but I realized that wasn’t what was going to make me happy in the end.”
And once he landed, he was committed. “When I got the job, I became a team member,” Kearson said. “I became invested in who I was working with, the processes and the way they did things and became ingrained with the flow of this institution.”
Bloodworth — who admitted to taking his sketchbook everywhere as a high schooler — also followed his passion. In fact, all the way to the rare major of puppetry at UConn. As a black male, he brings an even rarer perspective to the field, which he has displayed at both City-Wide Open Studios in New Haven and the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at his alma mater.
His internship experiences at the Yale University Art Gallery opened his eyes to art during his coming of age. “I realized I’m not a protester — it brings a lot of anxiety and also fear of safety,” he said. “But I realize my art can be the way. Also because art lasts so long, and history can get jumbled. But the art doesn’t really get jumbled … the art kind of stays consistent. Especially if you put your mark on it.”
And the Center for British Art is clearly focused on allowing a new generation — and those made by New Haven — to help share the story.
A public art museum and research institute that houses the largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom, the Center reflects the development of British art and culture from the Elizabethan period onward and includes collections of more than 2,000 paintings, 250 sculptures, 20,000 drawings and watercolors, 40,000 prints, and 35,000 rare books and manuscripts.
Among the greatest treasures is the building itself, which opened to the public in 1977. The Center is the last building designed by the internationally acclaimed American architect Louis I. Kahn. It stands across the street from Kahn’s first major commission, the Yale University Art Gallery (1953).