Spotlight on Dream the Combine: Jennifer Newsom & Tom Carruthers


Jennifer Newsom & Tom Carruthers

Based in Minneapolis, Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers, (Dream the Combine) are a powerful pair who have been creating public art and gallery installations together for several years and recently celebrated the creation and installation of Clearing, their 2017 FSP/Jerome Fellowship project at Franconia Sculpture Park. Clearing consists of a series of large mirrors installed in the expanded section of the park. The site-specific installation was created in response to the environment of the sculpture park as a whole, with careful mapping and consideration given to the arrangement of the current exhibition. Walking among Clearing from multiple entry points, the surrounding sculptures appear and disappear and the viewer becomes hyperaware of their positioning in the landscape.

Jennifer (born in Norwich, CT) and Tom (born in Vancouver, BC) both hold Master of Architecture degrees from Yale University and have been featured in several international publications. Jennifer currently teaches at the University of Minnesota School of Architecture and was a past instructor at Juxtaposition Arts. Tom is a licensed architect and co-owner of Jacobsson Carruthers, a metal fabrication shop in Northeast Minneapolis. He has previously worked as lead assistant for artist Ursula von Rydingsvard and has worked alongside the late Charles Gwathmey and at Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Recently, Jennifer and Tom became two of the ten invited architects for the 2018 Architect-in-Residence program at Art OMI in Ghent, NY. Also, they were selected as finalists for the 2018 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program for the opportunity to build a temporary outdoor installation in the courtyard of MoMA PS1. The winner will be announced in early 2018.

Describe your creative process and influences:

We are partners in work and life, and our practice is deeply collaborative. We are intrigued by infrastructural systems, spaces on the margins, alternative narratives, and metaphors.

Dream The Combine is the creative practice of Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers. We are artists and architects who create site-specific installations exploring metaphor, imaginary environments, and perceptual uncertainties that cast doubt on our understanding of the world.

We adapt systems that deal with space, meter, time, and other aspects that construct our social reality. We are interested in engaging the rhetorical complexity of these systems, opening them up to multitudes of encounter and interpretation.

We build three-dimensionally expanded images, our pieces taking on the sketched outlines of drawing. They are structurally complex, challenging in terms of timeline, material, and size. But our work also has a wistful intimacy, and is often in public places on the margins of polished landscapes. We are fascinated by infrastructure and social constructs; our work operates both at the scale of the city and in terms of networked relationships between people.


Tell us about your project at FSP:

The formal arrangement of Clearing at Franconia Sculpture Park derives from a latent network of artworks currently arrayed in the park, yet the work holds its own as a cluster of repeating elements.
We aimed to erase views of the existing artwork through a series of voids delimited by black figures: in this case, pairs of mirrors mounted to 28’-tall repurposed Twin-City lampposts. Mowed paths emphasize these corridors through the prairie landscape in a clear departure from the existing Jeffersonian grid of rectilinear paths.


What projects have you collaborated on in the past?

We have collaborated on 7 public art and gallery installations in the United States and Canada.


How does your time at Franconia compare to other residencies or projects you’ve completed?

The time at Franconia has been such a gift of space, intellectual freedom, and challenging critique. We have greatly enjoyed being a part of its family of artists and interns.





What did you learn at FSP? What was the biggest challenge?

We learned that sometimes you need to insert time into the process to make a project sing.


Do you have any other projects coming up?

This has been an exciting few months for us! In addition to finishing Clearing, our largest work to date, we were recently selected as Finalists for the 2018 Young Architects Program at MoMA PS1 in New York City. We’ve been diligently working on our final proposal for the courtyard spaces of the museum. We were also selected as Architects-in-Residence at Art OMI, a sculpture park in Ghent, NY, for a two week long fellowship in late February.



The FSP/Jerome Fellowship Program is made possible, in part, by generous support from the Jerome Foundation. Established in 1997 with Franconia Sculpture Park, the FSP/Jerome Fellowship Program supports the creation of new works by emerging visual artists from New York City and Minnesota.


Untitled design (1)

Subscribe to Franconia’s blog and never miss out on a FSP Spotlight interview. Check out earlier 2017 Spotlight installments:

Thomas Putzier
Thomas Matsuda
Bridget Beck and Joy Feuer
Carissa Samaniego
Nick Rivers
Samantha Holmes
Zaq Landsberg
Jordan Rosenow and April Martin
Nooshin Hakim Javadi and Pedram Baldari
Bill Klaila
Laura Feldberga
and Ojars Feldbergs



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