Yale alumni couple win Young Architects Competition at MoMA PS1
Creative partners Jennifer Newsom ’01 BA, ’05 M.Arch. and Tom Carruthers ’05 M.Arch. of the Minneapolis-based firm Dream the Combine won this year’s PS1 Young Architects Program Competition at MoMA PS1 in Queens. The outdoor environment they conceived and constructed with long-time collaborator Clayton Binkley (’99 B.A.) of ARUP and current Yale School of Architecture students, changes from day to night and moment to moment. Giant hanging mirrors, an expansive metal hammock, an elevated runway, and overhead mist and lights both reflect and distort the urban setting and the people inhabiting it. When designing the kinetic structure, the couple say they accounted for inevitabilities like gravity, changing sunlight, and the massive influx of visitors for the museum’s Saturday night “Warm Up” dance parties, but also left room for visitors to have their own experiences.
The installation is called “Hide & Seek,” a name their seven-year-old son suggested in what Carruthers calls a moment of “magical alignment.” At 20 months, their son also inspired the name of their firm. Newsom recalls: “We were staying near a farm in upstate New York and we asked him what he dreamt about the night before. He said, ‘Dream the combine.’ The quirkiness of the phrase just stuck.”
There are multiple ways for visitors to interact with “Hide & Seek” — the mirrors move in the wind and respond to touch. Visitors can walk, sit, recline, and balance on the walkway and hammock. “It’s very intentional on our end,” she says. “How do we invite different kinds of movement? It’s open to interpretation and chance encounters.”
The sculptural, reflective world is also perfect for Instagram (hashtags: #momaps1 and #dreamthecombine) and the artists — who live and work with their two children in Minneapolis — say they enjoy following the real-life interactions with their work from afar. “The Instagram photos and videos bring this ambiguity,” says Carruthers. “In the hammock space, some are reclining and seeing the stars; others are tightrope walking and doing unexpected performances.”
The two met while at Yale, where they took the same architecture classes and often worked on the same collaborative teams. “In school there was a degree of competitiveness,” Carruthers says. “Now we try to embody the work outside of ourselves, to get past the ego.”
“We often can’t remember who had the idea,” Newsom laughs.
They both gravitated to Minneapolis when they graduated, not only because Newsom was raised there, but because it’s a place where they can explore a big vision in a supportive community. Newsom is an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota and the two are focused primarily on making public art. “It’s easier here to have a family, a backyard, and a studio, and to pursue doing work in the public space,” Carruthers says. “We can manage all the risks and still stay married.”
They have one permanent installation called “Clearing” in the Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer, Minnesota, which involves a series of elevated mirrors reflecting the surrounding fields and trees. And they’ve remained connected to Yale through a vibrant alumni community in the Twin Cities.
The couple will continue to take turns visiting “Hide & Seek” until it closes in early September. “It gives us time to enjoy it, and see it with fresh eyes — as a visitor,” Newsom says.
Slideshow: scenes from ‘Hide & Seek’
“Hide & Seek” is on display until Sept. 3 at MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, Queens. Find more details at the MoMA website.