21-year-old Gerald Jason Cruz is paving his way in the art and engineering world by exhibiting his award-winning structures and sculptures throughout Abu Dhabi.
Jason is a civil engineering student and scholar at the New York University of Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). Coming from the Philippines, Jason’s passion for engineering and architecture has projected his skills to many places and people.
In an interview with The Filipino Times, He talks about how growing up in Manila has motivated him to create such meaningful sculptures and structures today. Jason says that his inspiration stems from seeing poor infrastructure and planning create problems like traffic congestion. His realization that his creations could improve people’s lives was a key factor in his pursuit of engineering & architecture.
“My big goal has always been to contribute back to the Philippines,” said Jason.
Most recently, Jason received the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2022 for Urban Fabric’s proposal, allowing them to build and exhibit it at the Abu Dhabi Art Fair last November. This award is given to pieces that share the vision of artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. He did this with the help of Roudhah Al Mazrouei and Jennifer Tsai.
“This was a group effort. I had two other teammates, who I worked with previously… The process took around 6-8 months,” said Jason.
The same piece was also displayed in various exhibits in Abu Dhabi such as the NYUAD campus and Umm Al Emarat Park.
When asked about the inspiration behind his award-winning piece, he stated that its interactive nature using various shapes and its resemblance of threads woven into the earth represented interconnectivity.
“We wanted to design something that physically and metaphorically links the city together. Hence, we came up with the aesthetic of pieces of thread woven into the ground; so when you see them at different places it looks like they’re lacing each site together by the fabric that is the city,” said Jason.
This piece is will be permanently displayed at Rabdan Marina at a later date.
Another of Jason’s works, Impermanence, won the Abu Dhabi Pavilion Prize 2021. The criteria was a “welcome area for visitors to scan tickets” (Abu Dhabi Art) for the pavilion. Jason proposed using canvas walls and reusable scaffolding to make the exhibit useful even after the competition.
“It’s about sustainability. All the construction materials were either reused or repurposed. The scaffolding was returned; the canvas wall was removed to make things like tote bags or drawings. You can make an impact on the exhibit and take a piece of it home with you after.”
Jason’s work stems back to 2018; with his first proposal, Bayanihan Kubo, aiming to use local resources to create natural-disaster-resilient housing in the Philippines. He’s worked in multiple countries such as Havixbeck, Germany with his mini-house community proposal; Lerchenfenster.
You can check all his projects on his website: jasoncruz.co.