Shields and Sun

Shields and Sun

Oct. 9, 2011

I took advantage of a beautiful fall day to see my shield designs for the New Haven Apple Store, which were installed last Monday.

There are twelve shields, one for each of Yale’s residential colleges, ordered by age and name with the oldest colleges toward the front of the building.

Space at the end of the wall will eventually be filled with the shields of two future colleges.

The shields line a walkway between the Apple Store and the large windows of the Yale Bookstore.

Pinned slightly off the limestone wall, the blackened steel plates have a slightly mottled look, with faint halos around each cutout.

The shields are head height, and one or two people reached out to touch them.

I overheard a father and son talking as they passed. Father: “Which one’s yours?” Son: “The axe, the one with the battle axe.”

Another pair didn’t seem so sure. Student: “Which one is Pierson?” Second student: “I think that one? [Looks down at the shield on his Pierson shirt.] Yeah, that one.”

An older woman was more succinct: “Looks like Hogwarts.”

The wall was in shadow for much of the afternoon, but I waited as the dark line moved along the walkway bricks.

Around 4 p.m., the sun crossed the plane of the wall and began catching the edges of the limestone slabs. What had seemed a flat wall suddenly had texture.

The mounting pins cast long shadows at an angle that should change through the year, more vertical in summer and more horizontal in winter.

As the sun moved on and the shadows grew shorter, the shields seemed to lift off the wall and float for a few minutes.

Then the sun passed behind the stone tower of Christ Church across the street, leaving the walkway once more in shade.