The Plug-In Studio is a socially engaged new media artist collective. We collaborate with youth and families in diverse Chicago communities to make video games, interactive kinetic sculpture, augmented reality graffiti, soft circuits and other art with technology. Our projects incorporate programming, engineering, and design in a critical context. See past projects here.
The Plug-In Studio regularly offers free classes and workshops in partnership with several Chicago nonprofits. Our programming serves as an incubator for contemporary art curriculum at the same time it provides experiences that most Chicago Public Schools students do not have in their K-12 classrooms. We use Scratch, Arduino, littleBits, and Squishy Circuits as art-making tools, rooting them firmly in the contemporary practices of art & technology and new media art. We hope to redefine the art curriculum as technological, critical, contemporary, and--in this time of intense economic pressure on our schools--relevant.
We provide opportunities for socially engaged artists to develop their teaching practice in alternative learning spaces through our community partnerships. Our Artist-Teachers encourage students to create and manipulate media, experiment with form, and explore audience and interactivity. We emphasize criticality; our teachers and students both consider not just the how of making, but also the what and the why. We have also consulted in K-12 schools and provided professional development for teachers.
We introduce creative computing, programming and robotics to laypeople, children and adolescents so that they can become critical producers of programmable media (apps, video games, digital animations and electronic toys) rather than passive consumers.