Lifetime of arts

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Photo by Sharon Yin.

In a new exhibition, the life’s work of graphic designer Tom Morin ART ’68 is on view at the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library.

“Threads of Influence: The Visual History of a Life in Graphic Design,” which opened Jan. 13, displays snippets from Morin’s career, including projects from his time as a graphic design student at the Yale School of Art in addition to his more recent work as a principal at the firm Context Design. After the exhibition closes on April 13, the materials on display will move to Yale’s Library Shelving Facility in Hamden as part of the Arts Library Special Collections.

The exhibit’s structure is “loosely” based on sections of Morin’s recently published book “Threads of Influence: The Visual History of a Life in Graphic Design,” Jae Rossman, the library’s assistant director for special collections, said in an email.

“The book is special because Tom chose to show all of his work, not just the best or most important pieces,” said Rossman, who is responsible for selecting exhibits. “He is showing the journey of becoming a good designer, not just the destination.”

Morin said in an email that no other recognized, living designer has traced his or her major influences through his entire life; objects in the exhibit reveal the influence Morin’s grandparents and parents had on him from a young age. He added that the materials he donated to Yale will be a useful research tool for teachers and students of design and design historians.

The exhibit places an emphasis on the Yale section of Morin’s book, Rossman said. His training at Yale and the foundation in graphic design that it gave him are important elements of both the exhibition and Morin’s book, she said.

But the exhibit is only a small part of the materials Morin donated to the library.

“I donated literally hundreds of photos, original sketches and artwork, student projects and printed professional projects from my 44-year career as a graphic design consultant to corporate America,” Morin said, adding that the body of work includes projects for the Whitney Museum of Art, General Electric, Xerox and J.P. Morgan.

For Morin, the most important part of the exhibit are six central cabinets displaying his student work under the instruction of six key Yale faculty members from the 1960s.

University Librarian Susan Gibbons praised the layout of the exhibit for highlighting the influences that the Yale faculty had on Tom Morin’s work as a graphic designer.

Gibbons added that donations like Tom Morin’s papers are important to the library because they help document the history and development of graphic design in America as well as the history of Yale itself.

“This has been one of the best experiences of my life,” Morin said, referring to the exhibit. “I am very happy with my decision to donate this collection the Haas Family Library, and I look forward to the ‘Tom Morin Papers’ being used by students and researchers for years to come.”

The Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library serves as the working library for the History of Art Department, the schools of Art, Architecture and Drama and the Yale University Art Gallery. It presents three exhibits each year in the spring, summer and fall, Rossman said.

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