The Plug-In Studio logo collaborations in art and technology
The Plug-In Studio collaborates with young people and adults
in Chicago communities.
plug-in graphic
Two students discuss the code for their video games.
A explores inputs and outputs with littleBits.
Students created a collaborative piece using the IR capability of the PicoCrickets.
Exploring electrical circuits with Squishy Circuits.
As the sun set, the games were visible on the side of the building and on the 2nd floor video projections.
A student programs a PicoCricket.
An interactive kinetic sculpture.
Artwork for a video game.
A student refines his character design for a video game.
A Squishy Circuit fish.
A student demonstrates her Dancing Doll kinetic sculpture.
Exploring Squishy Circuits at an ArtMakerSpace event.
Teens check out the games at the Street Arcade, 2015.
A participant in an ArtMakerSpace event.
A student adds color to orignal artwork for his video game.
Background artwork for a video game.
A young participant explores the rgb LED.
Two students discuss the code for their video games.
Exploring littleBits.
An artist-teacher assists a young participant at an ArtMakerSpace event.
An artist-teacher discusses game design with a student.
Visitors played the games on custom-made arcade-style consoles.
A young participant adjusts a littleBit.
Two students demonstrate their interactive sound sculpture.
Exploring electronics through Squishy Circuits.
A student demonstrates an interactive kinetic sculpture incorporating found objects.
A student builds an interactive kinetic sculpture.
Later in the evening at the Street Arcade. Photo courtesy Robert Banke.
An artist-teacher consults with a student on his video game.

Community Partnerships

Graffiti Institute
Augmented Reality Graffiti project, spring 2016

Breakthrough Youth Network
free art + technology classes and workshops for girls and videogame classes for youth

Hyde Park Art Center
The Street Arcade, summer 2015
free art classes for teens, 2013-5

Past Hosts of Plug-In Studio ArtMakerSpaces:

Chicago Public Libraries, various branches
Yollocalli Arts Reach, a program of the
      National Museum of Mexican Arts
ElevArte Community Studio
Evanston Art Center
Hyde Park Art Center
Teacher's College, Columbia University,
      Creative Technologies Symposium
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago,
      Family Day Program: Blink
National Art Education Association,
      2015 National Conference

Our Funders

The Plug-in Studio is generously supported by:

A Blade of Grass 2015 Fellowship
      for Socially Engaged Art

Chicago Art Department

The Propeller Fund/ThreeWalls Gallery

Northern Illinois University

Shapiro Center for Research & Collaboration
      The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Tools We Use


Scratch is a block-based visual programming language developed by the MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten.


The PicoCricket is a tiny computer with modular blocks similar to Legos; this set includes and array of inputs (light, touch, IR, sound sensors) and outputs (motors, lights, IR, and speakers). The PicoCricket can be programmed with PicoBlocks software, a visual programming language that is the precourser to Scratch.


littleBits are an opensource library of electronic modules--LEDs, motors, switches, sensors--that snap together with tiny magnets to form circuits.

The MaKey MaKey

The MaKey MaKey is a circuit board that plugs into a computer's USB port allowing users to make any physical object act like a "key" on the computer's keyboard, triggering Scratch and other computer programs.

Squishy Circuits

Squishy Circuits are an electronics set using conductive playdough to make electrical circuits using battery packs, LEDs, buzzers and motors.