Elm City Scrapbook is a column alternately written by Daniella Sanchez (MC ’25) and Catherine Kausikan (GH ’25), which each week reflects on a different artwork in and around New Haven.
It’s been a rainy January, one where the air takes on a gloomy effect and no bright, breaking light cuts through the gray. The clouds strip my mornings of passing time: 8 o’clock looks like 10 o’clock looks like noon. The world feels untethered and strange. Water drips down eaves with an uneasy persistence the buildings can’t quite shrug off.
Nestled in a corner of Old Campus, Joan Miró’s Personnage et oiseau emerges like a rupture in the fabric of the earth, its rough, dark patina foreign against the gothic walls around it. The sculpture begins in a triangular base of alternating slats. Atop this rests a thin, long rectangle and a beady-eyed head. From this head, a rod launches sideways and upwards, branching out as it balances unsupported in the air. The sculpture is unfazed by its own bizarreness; its presence on this cold, rainy day pulls me further from reality. The sculpture and I suddenly exist in a space neither here nor there, alone.
The more I grow comfortable in America, the further I slip from what I knew of home. I find myself floating in this disconcerting in-between, unmoored and estranged from every place along the horizon. Truthfully, I cannot be as unafraid as Miró’s alien. I want to find something that will ground me somewhere, to belong to people and places I can trace confidently on my palm. Yet, I know an answer exists in this incongruity. For now, I will learn to relish this feeling, and go somersaulting through the cool morning sky.