John Preus

The son of Norwegian Lutheran missionaries and pastors going back 6 generations, Preus (rhymes with choice) comes from a family of dedicated liberal believers, and much of his work revolves around related themes of belief and transmission, sacrifice and victimology, public space and non-scalable architecture, the realms of transformation and revival, anticipatory grief, loss and nostalgia, philosophy and apocalyptic film and literature. Preus (b. 1971) spent his early years running barefoot under a cathedral of trees in Makumira, Tanzania, then grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and northern Wisconsin.  Preus (rhymes with choice), in spite of his squandered pastoral pedigree, currently works as an artist, builder, fabricator, amateur writer, collaborator, and occasional curator.

He founded Dilettante Studios in 2010 which designs and builds cabinets, furniture, and residential and commercial spaces, relying almost exclusively on 2nd-hand materials.  He co-founded the art group Material Exchange in 2005, and until 2010 collaborated with co-founder Sara Black.  Preus is currently co-curator with Laura Shaeffer at SHOP, and creative director for the Rebuild Foundation, and lead fabricator for Theaster Gates studios.

Preus holds a BA from Gustavus Adolphus College (93), and an MFA from the University of Chicago (2005).  He studied at La Cipressaia, in northern Italy with art gurus Rose Shakinovsky and Claire Gavronsky, in 92, 94, and 96, and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002.  He has roughly 16 years of building and designing experience. His education in the trades includes a 2-year apprenticeship with award-winning hand-tool furniture-maker John Nesset, and some years working in cabinet shops and on carpentry crews. Exhibitions of his work include the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Portland Museum of Contemporary Craft, the Betty Rhymer Gallery, the Hyde Park Art Center, the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, the Devos Museum of Art in Marquette, Michigan.  Preus’s work will be featured in a solo exhibition in the large gallery at the Hyde Park Art Center in April on 2014.  Preus lives with his wife and 3 children in West Rogers Park on the north side of Chicago.