Art can serve as a both a window and a mirror—a way to experience and a way to remember and reflect. For Michael Morand, the art that he chooses to collect is itself a gathering of experiences, memories, and friends. He is familiar with their stories, and in collecting these works, welcomes these narratives into his own.
For Morand, “to be human is to be interested and involved in art…to be fully alive is to be engaged in the creative delight that fellow humans make.” Art allows for both the expression and understanding of the shared experience. “Visual art,” Morand said, “is one of the most powerful ways humans share their stories. If we don’t tell our own stories, we won’t know who we are…and if we don’t listen to [others’] stories, we won’t know who they are.”
Morand, who was born in Covington, Kentucky and grew up outside of Cincinnati, has been in New Haven for over 30 years—or more specifically, for almost 12,000 days. He attended both Yale College and the Yale Divinity School and now serves as Yale’s Deputy Chief Communications Officer. Not only is New Haven his beloved home, but it is also a constant source of aesthetic inspiration. Morand is also an iPhone photographer, and many know him by his snaps of New Haven on his Instagram account, @mimoct.
His “deep devotion to our hometown of New Haven” extends beyond his photography to his taste in art. Nearly all of the works in his collection are from people he knows or have met, many of which are local New Haven artists. Moreover, some of his favorite pieces feature “ordinary views of New Haven that are rendered in an extraordinary way” and “continue to delight, inspire, [and] inform over time.” This sense of story, history, and shared experience resonates throughout his collection.
A warm, lush painting of the Elm and Orange Street intersection at dusk by William Meddick evokes this sense of fantasy derived from the familiar. Meddick was one among many artists who painted scenes from a vacant floor in the New Haven Savings Bank tower at 195 Church Street, in a group residency more than a decade ago. There is magic in the way Meddick, a painter who considers his work his “visual diary,” renders this scene—this particular everyday corner. The focus is not so much on the accuracy of the representation but more so on the evocation of a familiar place—it is extraordinary to those who normally consider this scene ordinary. For Morand, “it is a corner [he has] known forever…a common, routine place and space rendered in a truly gorgeous [way].” He noted, “A photograph wouldn’t do nearly as much for me of this particular scene…it shows [how the] different medium and technique of painting…can reveal depth and texture.”
Morand draws comparisons between this piece and a poem by Wallace Stevens, “An Ordinary Evening in New Haven,” which speaks to the act of seeing, particularly in the “real and unreal” and what is “seen and unseen” in New Haven. The painting gracefully merges the “real and unreal” through what is seen—representation of the quotidian in a rich and evocative way—and also through what is not immediately seen—the hand of the artist who is a fellow citizen in a community of artists who “brought their own eyes to the scene.”
The pieces in Morand’s collection are rich with “not merely moments but essence and layers and textures.” They connect him to and tell of the places he calls home and to the people he considers community.