Students in front of their winning installation, “Urban Fabric.” The work is a large red braid-like sculpture curved into an arch.


On November 15, Urban Fabric was unveiled at Abu Dhabi Art. In fact, the installation, presented by the Art Gallery at NYU Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, won the 2022 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award. Gerald Jason Cruz, Yi-Jen (Jennifer) Tsai, and Roudhah Hamad Al Mazrouei are the three NYU Abu Dhabi juniors who came together to design and create the installation. What’s more, the students took their inspiration for the piece from the award’s namesake artists. Urban Fabric is a series of intertwined sculptures resembling pieces of thread that turn the piece’s physical environment into a canvas and a dynamic and thought-provoking space.

How did you come up with the idea for the installation?

Jennifer: Our main source of inspiration was Christo and Jeanne-Claude who were known for their environmental art.

Roudhah: Drawing inspiration from Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work, we wanted to maximize the theme of using environment-provided resources to emphasize connectivity.

Jason: Also, the choice of color—red—draws in the viewer’s attention and highlights the importance of the artwork. The sculpture of the thread itself imagines Abu Dhabi as a piece of fabric in which our artwork weaves up and down the land to connect space and time.

How did you decide to work together, and what did your collaboration look like?

Jason: The three of us first met our first year. We came together on our first project, which was a submission for the Abu Dhabi Art Pavilion Prize in 2021. That’s when we realized the potential to combine our individual technical expertise and passions for art, architecture, and design.

Roudhah: We won the award and had our concept of a temporary pavilion, called Impermanence, built at the Abu Dhabi Art Fair. Since then, we formed a collective to continue creating unique, intricate works of design.

People gathering at night for the unveiling of the students’ installtion.
What was challenging about the sculpture’s creation?

Roudhah: The continuous process of translating our ideas into reality was challenging.

Jennifer: When we first submitted our proposal, we created concept drawings. Then, when we presented it to the jury, we created a scaled interactive prototype. This took a lot of refining to realize our design in a physical form.

Jason: Once we were selected for the award, we continued to refine the sculpture during the fabrication process. In fact, we worked with Associate Professor of Practice of Visual Arts Goffredo Puccetti and the head engineer of a fabrication company to bring the project to life.

What do you hope audiences will feel when interacting with the installation? 

Jennifer: When visiting the artwork, we want our audience to contemplate what interpersonal relationships and connections mean to them. Whether those connections be their link to a place, a piece of history, or friends and family.

What are your goals for the future?

Jason: I long to become an architect. I hope to make a positive impact wherever I go but especially back home in the Philippines.

Jennifer: I truly appreciate the many opportunities NYU Abu Dhabi offers students to pursue their interests. Moving forward, I’d like to take the lessons I learned from this experience—collaboratively coming up with a concept and design, presenting our ideas, and managing an art project—into my future careers.

Roudhah: I hope to one day enter the field of academia and research and employ the experience I’ve had. Additionally, I want to share it with the creative community around me—to be an inspiration in that regard.

Urban Fabric is on permanent display at the Rabdan Marina in Abu Dhabi.