Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Chicago based artist, craftsman, and builder John Preus. Utilizing salvaged materials from recently closed Chicago Public Schools, Preus has constructed functional sculptural works which revel in the histories embedded in their component parts. Whether these histories are implied, or as literal as a student’s writing on an old desk, Preus’s process of transforming old to new is both cathartic and political. These objects hold our collective memories.
A swing set made of discarded desk chairs hangs in the exhibition space, reminiscent of the whimsies of youth now stilled by the passage of time. A long, fracture shaped bench carves through the middle of the gallery, while wall pieces of reframed and hand altered blue prints from some of the closed schools serve as bookends to their lifespan.
John Preus is an artist, builder, fabricator, amateur writer, musician, and collaborator. He founded Dilettante Studios in 2010, a design/build studio which relies almost exclusively on second-hand materials. He worked with Theaster Gates as the Creative Director of the Rebuild Foundation, and as the lead fabricator in Gates’ studio. In 2012, Preus led a crew of builders from Chicago, Sweden, Egypt and Germany to rehab the vacant Huguenot House in Kassel, Germany for Theaster Gates’ dOCUMENTA 13 piece, 12 Ballads for Huguenot House.
Preus holds an MFA from the University of Chicago. His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Heilbronn Kunstverein, Germany, the Portland Museum of Contemporary Craft, the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, and the Devos Museum of Art, Marquette, Michigan. Preus was the 2013-14 Jackman-Goldwasser fellow at the Hyde Park Art Center, and received the first place MAKER grant and the Efroymson Fellowship in 2014. He will be the Kaplan resident at Northwestern University in 2016. Preus lives and works in Chigaco, IL.