Dream The Combine’s work conflates what is real with what is imagined to create perceptual uncertainties that cast doubt on our “known” understanding of the world. They are images deconstructed sectionally and, while made of industrial materials, have the lightness of drawing. Through techniques such as doubling (mirrors), juxtaposition (collage), overlay (projection), or mimicry (casting), their work conveys a multitude of viewpoints at a time, and inserts an oscillation into the figure-ground dialectic central to architectural practice and the basis of metaphor.
Jennifer’s research lies in the space between real, tangible bodies made of flesh, steel, glass, etc, and the perception of these bodies through vision. As scholar Sarah Lewis has noted: “Seeing has become a mode of reading the world. We make meaning of what we see through conditioned sight, and the question becomes what conditions the mode of seeing? When it comes to race and equity, this has become increasingly important to understand.” As an architect, she examine racial constructs in the context of built constructions, where these spatial metaphors act as mechanisms for connectedness and engagement. People are the activating agents in her work, and their presence is needed for a reconsideration, a “reconditioning” to use Lewis’ term, of our bodies in relation to one another.
Jennifer teaches in the Bachelor of Design in Architecture, Bachelor of Science, and Master in Architecture programs at UMN School of Architecture. Her teaching is centered on the lived experiences of real people in real places, rooting projects within the local context of the Twin Cities region. She has partnered for a number of years with Juxtaposition Arts, a local youth-empowerment arts organization, to co-create possibilities for their expanded campus in North Minneapolis. Jennifer was awarded the 2020 AIA MN Special Award for her contributions to education and practice.
Jennifer earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Architecture from Yale University. While a graduate student, she organized the symposium Black Boxes: Enigmas of Space and Race held at Yale School of Architecture and wrote the entry “Architects, African-American” in Vol. 2 of Africana: Encyclopedia of the African and African-American Experience. She speaks about her work and issues regarding race and architecture widely, such as at the landmark conference Black Architects and Planners 1968-Now held in 2018 at the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. She is on the advisory board for the upcoming Museum of Modern Art exhibition, Reconstructions: Unbuilding Race in America and is a founding member of Dark Matter University, a national consortium of scholars and practitioners of color furthering anti-racist design education.
(Citation: Osterheldt, Jeneé. “This is Sarah Lewis. You should know who she is.” Boston Globe, 24 April 2019. www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/04/24/sarah-lewis-delivers-art-black-life-vision-justice/tH4KWJvp4UJpf2T6snxULI/story.html. Accessed 25 April 2019.)
AIA, LEED AP, NOMA, NCARB
Master of Architecture, Yale University
Bachelor of Arts in Architecture (with honors), Yale University
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- Arch 5250