2022 Awardees: Isaac Bloodsworth and Alexandra Diaz
New Haven artist, Isaac Bloodworth, has been intensely interested in art since kindergarten. His interest never wavered. He eventually entered the University of Connecticut’s prestigious Puppet Arts Program to pursue his skills in visual arts and storytelling. He succeeded in both areas, and he learned much more. “Being on a predominately white campus made me reckon with how the world saw me as a Black man.” The realities Isaac faced inspired him to build a world in his art where Blacks could find comfort and affirmation. He combined this goal with his gift for creating original characters that “evoke a sense of wonder and liberation.”
Isaac describes one of his most popular original characters, Joy Da Black Boi: “Joy is a young Black kid who is sweet on the inside, like candy, and who loves going on adventures.” Isaac created art installations featuring “Adventures of Joy Da Black Boi”, exhibiting them throughout Greater New Haven. After witnessing their positive impact on Black kids, Isaac now plans to create something “tangible, joyful and comfortable for Black kids”.
“Black kids need hope,” he explains. “Too many Black kids do not get the chance to be kids; they must mature too fast to survive in a world that currently sees them as a threat. I want them to play with a toy of Joy with his lollipop staff and feel like there’s a place in this world for them.” With his Bitsie Fund grant, Isaac will create Joy da Black Boi toy figures.
Alexandra Diaz is an individual who “has always had a passion for social justice and community engagement.” She found her creative voice in college when she picked up a camera and discovered the power of the still image. “I am determined to build a bridge between my passion for social justice with my love of art,” she says.
While building this bridge, Alexandra is crossing to a new frontier, called “Mapping Puerto Rican Identity in New Haven.” As a Puerto Rican who grew up in New Haven, Alexandra will study how Puerto Rican identity intersects with being a New Haven resident.
“Puerto Rican people add so much culture to New Haven, yet we are never at the center of any conversations about New Haven or even Connecticut. Through my art I produce and reproduce images of people that society tries to forget about. I want to create beautiful art about the New Haven community that finally centers on forgotten identities.” The Bitsie Fund grant will provide Alexandra with the resources she needs for her photographic exploration.