Detroit-based architect Catie Newell’s work is focused on the tactile, sensory qualities of the materials we use to build things: their texture, density, or malleability. Her investigations combine architectural research, material studies, and art experiments, a strategy she began as a student that now defines her career.
The most important element in her formal vocabulary is light, not only as a “material” in its own right, but also as a condition. Varying in strength, form, and duration, light constructs architecture as a situational experience rather than a fixed space. Newell’s fascination with light is a fascination with darkness. Through urban interventions, installations, and photographs, she investigates how darkness creates alternate environments, with unseen geographies, untold histories, and secret identities.
Newell, assistant professor of architecture at U-M Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, is a recent recipient of the Rome Prize in architecture. Overnight includes photographs from her Rome project as well as new photography from the series Nightly, featuring nighttime images of Detroit streetscapes and interiors, alongside a site-specific sculptural installation commissioned by the Museum.