Hidden behind Green Hall, separated from the world by towering gates of steel, dwells an entirely other species of Yalie. 353 Crown is their natural habitat, but provided with some spray-fixative, a supply of Trader Joe’s instant lunches and a 30 rack, their population will sustain itself anywhere. They are largely nocturnal; when night falls, they often escape their creative commune to pick up takeout at Sullivan’s or enjoy a recessed Parliament in the moonlight. They don’t pad their resumes with 17 extracurriculars. They just make art. All the time. And they’re really good at it.
But recently, these exotic creatures have ascended from their turpentine lairs. They have thrown off their paint-encrusted smocks and ceased to build their 8-by-10-foot canvases. They have ventured out into the streets of our Gothic desert sporting Yale hoodies with Y’s carefully painted upon their rosy cheeks.
Yale’s MFA students are going to hockey games.
Yeah, you heard me. It’s a thing. Art students love hockey.
“I never considered myself a hockey fan, but after I went, I was hooked,” Didier William ART ’09 told me Wednesday evening.
“It took one really excited dude to get us to go, to put the spark in it,” Justin Kuhn ART ’09 agreed. “And from there, it was gone. We can all be in agreement. It’s a guaranteed good time.”
So what is responsible for this mass migration from Crown Street’s artistic incubator to Ingalls Rink? Who is this elusive “excited dude”?
Okay, he’s not actually elusive at all. In fact, every art student I talked with immediately cited him as the reason they ever considered going. He is the sole arbiter of hockey’s art student fan base. He’s the patriarch of the spirited revolution. His name is Logan Grider. Having graduated from Yale’s MFA program in 2007, he’s back to teach art. He has returned bearing the gift of hockey.
“The best part of it is seeing Logan. He’s so hardcore. His obsession has filtered down to the rest of us. Logan brought us hockey and we have really taken to it,” William said.
Hardcore is not an exaggeration. The day Yale played Albany, Logan got off a red-eye at 6 a.m. “I drove home from the airport in New York, bought tickets and drove back to New York for the game,” Grider said. “I didn’t sleep for 36 hours. My wife thinks I’m crazy. When I was teaching in Kentucky I drove 5 1/2 hours to watch Yale play Alabama.”
Grider is not from the middle of the country where hockey is a real thing that multiple people like. (He was born and bred in Oregon.) He had no affinity for hockey until he arrived at Yale. But now he knows the height and weight of almost every Yale player and he will talk to you about which goalie is getting the most play time. But he still doesn’t really know all the rules of the game. It’s a Yale thing, and an art thing.
“I got into hockey when I was an MFA,” Grider told me as he tended to the print studio during his lunch hour. “The grad program is really rigorous and hockey was the perfect outlet. But no one wanted to come with me. Maybe I’d get a couple of sculpture students, at best.”
Well, times have changed. Each home game features 20-30 cheering artists that have taken over the area behind the far goal. They quite enjoy taunting the opposing goalie, and they’re pretty sure he can hear them. How did this change occur? Maybe it’s because Grider looks like Orson Welles circa “Citizen Kane.” Or maybe it was his delicious pregame dinners that were the gateway drug.
“Word got out to grad students,” Grider said. “Now there are too many of us for me to cook — though we did just have a really good nachos night.”
And like everyone else, art students thrive on the game’s excitement. “It’s the violence. The sound of glass,” said Leslie Smith ART ’09.
His classmate Anahita Vossoughi ART ’10 also appreciates the blatant brutality: “Every time I go, I just want to beat somebody with a stick.” Just like every other fan, the art school contingent wants to scream. They want, as Grider says, “to valve out in a healthy way. The art school is a pressure cooker. When you go to a game, you forget about everything else and just scream your head off.”
The joy of such an outlet may seem obvious to the rest of us, but it’s a bit of a novelty for art students. There are no football teams at MICA.
“I have gone to art magnet schools my whole life. Having sports to get excited about is nice,” William explained.
But the art grads have been habituated to the world of hockey. While making art may not be a contact sport, both hockey and art school can get rough.
“I guess you could say that having a really hard crit is like playing hockey,” Charlotte Hallberg ART ’10 explained. “If you haven’t been paying attention, they could blindside you and slam you into the wall. But the hockey players always get up afterwards, and that’s encouraging.”
They share a fast pace, but that’s probably it. Undergraduate Anna Robinson-Sweet ’11, another one of Grider’s converts, understands it most simply: “Art students like hockey for the same reason everyone else does (or should) — ’cause it rules. And we kick ass at it.”
Despite a former reluctance to abandon the comforts of their secluded ecosystem, at dusk on a game day, you will find this species engaging in shocking acts of school spirit. A young Orson Welles will knock you out if you threaten his young. And maybe, just maybe, in the offseason some hulking hockey players will stumble into their superfans’ caves, draw on the walls and the history of art will begin again.