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Yale Center for British Art celebrates the inaugural Gateway to British Art Prize winners


The Yale Center for British Art has partnered with Gateway Community College (GCC) to launch the Gateway to British Art Prize. The aim of this initiative is for students across academic disciplines to select one artwork from the Center’s collections (this year using the museum’s extensive online collection) and to write about it in a thoughtful, persuasive way.

The award recipients were selected by a distinguished jury that included the art critics Allie Biswas ( Brooklyn Rail ) and Niru Ratnam ( Art Newspaper , Guardian ), and the historian and author Olivia Horsfall Turner (Yale MA 2003). Prizes were awarded to four GCC students: Matthew Scanlon (first: $500), Megan Blais (second: $200), and Britney Hunt and John Quiroz (runners-up: $100). 

“It was the intention of the Center’s founder, Paul Mellon, for the museum to engage with students in New Haven,” said Director Courtney J. Martin. “This collaboration with Gateway Community College is a meaningful way for the Center to connect with students beyond Yale and encourage their interest in looking at, and writing about, art.” 

On January 27, the Center’s Education department hosted an online ceremony acknowledging the Gateway to British Art Prize winners. This event was an opportunity for awardees to present their work to family, friends, faculty, and museum colleagues. The students’ essays will be published on the Center’s website and accompanied by a profile of each writer, in which they describe their experience with the program. 

“I feel so fortunate to have witnessed this diverse group of writers push themselves beyond their academic comfort zones and embrace such significant and challenging material,” said Lauren O’Leary, Associate Professor of English at GCC. “Inspiration and creativity flowed reciprocally between Gateway students and the Center’s educators, leaving us all eagerly anticipating our next opportunity to integrate such amazing talents.” 

The Gateway to British Art Prize received an impressive number of submissions in its first year following a collaboration between the Center’s Education department and GCC’s Humanities division. A series of online tutorials were developed by James Vanderberg, Educator, School and Access Programs at the Center, which helped students navigate the museum’s online collection and featured strategies for looking at, and writing about, art. “This project was exciting to work on! Gateway’s students were able to draw such rich interpretations of works from our online collection—a testament to their ability as writers and observers. I look forward to welcoming next year’s participants into our galleries,” said Vanderberg. 

“We are all incredibly proud of Matthew, Megan, Britney, and John for their work in earning this impressive honor from the internationally renowned Yale Center for British Art,” said Dr. William “Terry” Brown, CEO at GCC. “We are appreciative to the Center for the invitation, and I commend professors Susan Chenard and Lauren O’Leary for working with the Center to bring this wonderful opportunity to our students.” 

The Center plans to offer these awards annually as a way to inspire students to explore and respond to the museum’s collections.

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