The Plug-In Studio logocollaborations in art and technology
The Plug-In Studio collaborates with
members of diverse communities.
plug-in graphic
Participants playing art games at the Street Arcade, Sept 2015 (photo courtesy Robert Banke).
Two students demonstrate their interactive sound sculpture.
Exploring electronics through Squishy Circuits.
A student demonstrates an interactive kinetic sculpture incorporating found objects.
A soft circuits workshop at Breakthrough Academy of Arts and Sciences.
A student builds an interactive kinetic sculpture.
Participants playing art games at the Street Arcade, Sept 2015 (photo courtesy Robert Banke).
An artist-teacher consults with a student on his video game.
A student programs a PicoCricket.
An interactive kinetic sculpture.
Artwork for a video game.
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.
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.
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.
A young participant adjusts a littleBit.

Plug-In Studio NEWS


War Games: Tactical Media exhibition opens February 9. More info soon.


The Plug-In Studio has been on hiatus for the past two years due to the pandemic, family illnesses and moving to a new city. Stay tuned for updates....


We are pleased to announce that the Plug-In Studio received a 2020 Fellowship Award in Interdisciplinary / Computer-Based Arts from the Illinois Arts Council. We are so excited to be included in this cohort of artists from across Illinois. The Art Council's generous support will enable us to develop a new project.

FALL 2019

Play our new game DISCHARGED at the Sullivan Galleries at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago August through October 2019.

33 S. State Street, 7th Floor in Chicago.

Join the Plug-In Studio Saturday 9/28 at the University of Chicago Weston Game Lab for We Got Game.

Panels include: Inclusive Games, Design Thinking and the Intersection of Gaming, For the Culture, The Power of Games. Steve and Kerry will discuss their work with the Street Arcade and the warGames Tactical Media Collective @ 10:45 am for The Power of Games panel. The GAME SUMMIT also includes workshops, demos, discussion, vending, and lots of game play.

John Crerar Library, 1st Floor, 5730 S Ellis Ave in Chicago.

Steve and Kerry are at DePaul Art Museum Thursday 8/1 @ 5pm for a panel called At War: Alternative Games and Critical Play

Presented alongside Eric J. Garcia: The Bald Eagle's Toupee, DPAM will host a panel to discuss issues surrounding the "military entertainment complex," socially engaged art games, and critical play in the history of games. Panel features The Plug-In Studio and Chaz Evans, Co-Founder, Video Game Art Gallery and is moderated by Patrick Jagoda, Associate Professor, Department of Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago.

DePaul Art Museum, 935 W Fullerton in Chicago.

MAY 2019

Join us Friday May 24 6-8pm: the warGames Tactical Media Collective Pop-Up Arcade + Conversation

At Chicago Art Department 1932 S Halsted. This event features original videogames and conversation about military recruiting from warGames Tactical Media Collective teen artists Jonathan Mora, Gabriel Moreno, Isabella Orihuela, Luis Sala, Genaro Salgado & Ivan Salinas.

This project was funded through the CAD CORE Residency.


The warGames Tactical Media Collective's CAD CORE Residency begins on March 1. Ten teen artists from area high schools (Juarez Community Academy and Curie High School) will join us each SATURDAY from 1-4 pm at CAD, 1932 S Halsted #100 as collaborators on the warGames project.

This community phase of the project begins with conversations on combat-themed commercial videogames and military recruiting, with visits from veteran artists sharing their own experiences of serving. Together we will develop ideas, create original artwork and program series of minigames. The warGames project concludes with a big public arcade event at CAD where the games become a platform for community discussion in which the teen artists take the lead. More info on the warGames project here.

And some exciting new updates from our amazing collaborator Eric J. Garcia: Eric launches his book tour for his new book DRAWING ON ANGER this month at U of I Champaign-Urbana before heading out west to sunny California. Stay tuned for THE BALD EAGLE'S TOUPEE, a new show of Eric's work at DePaul Art Museum opening April 25. Look for a preview of DISCHARGED, our original videogame from the warGames Tactical Media Collective.

The warGames Tactical Media Collective was named Core Residents at Chicago Art Department. We were selected under the theme of CONTEMPORARY CONVERSATIONS. CAD's Core Residency is a pilot program that represents an ambitious intervention in the field, one that will challenge its community of artists, organizers, cultural producers, and makers to lead studio work, exhibitions, and public programs to tackle topics that matter. CAD is supporting our community engagement phase of the warGames project.

JULY 2018

The Plug-In Studio at MIT July 26-28
We're presenting at Scratch: The Next Generation, the 2018 Scratch@MIT Conference at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge MA. Scratch is an amazing programming language and online community from the Lifelong Kindergarten Group.

MAY 2018

Join the Plug-In Studio for an artist talk in Milwaukee at ARTISTS NOW! on May 2 at the Peck School of the Arts, UW Milwaukee.

The Department of Art & Design proudly presents the 11th season of Artists Now!, a Wednesday evening lecture series designed for a broad audience with an interest in contemporary visual art. It presents a diverse group of artists working across traditional, hybrid and emergent disciplines. Join these nationally and inter- nationally recognized practitioners as they explore and expand the boundaries of creative visual practice today. All lectures take place on Wednesdays at 7:30 pm in the Arts Center Lecture Hall on the UWM campus.

MAY 2018

The Plug-In Studio is one of several featured Blade of Grass Felllows in a FIELDWORKS screening on May 11 at OPEN ENGAGEMENT: Inhale, Exhale: the Arts of Healing and Learning an open house and screening on May 11, @ 10 am-1 pm at 81 Prospect Street, Brooklyn NY 11201, Room 7A.

FALL 2017

The Plug-In Studio is pleased to announce that Jonatan Martinez, a graduate student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is joining the WarGames Tactical Media Collective as our new Research Fellow. Support for Jonatan's work is generously provided by the Shapiro Center for Research and Collaboration at SAIC.

APR 2017

Watch a new video by Nat Soti/Inpoints featuring our recent REVELATIONS AUGMENTED GRAFFITI project, a collaboration with Miguel Aguilar of the Graffiti Institute:

Read more about the project here.

FEB 2017

We're pleased to share this new video about our Street Arcade project:

FIELDWORKS: THE PLUG-IN STUDIO, The Street Arcade from A Blade of Grass on Vimeo.

And we were recently in the media...

Two Plug-In Studio projects, the Street Arcade and our current work in progress the WarGames Tactical Media Collective, were recently featured on Blavity, dnainfo Chicago, BlackMattersUS and Spero News.

OCT 2016

We're pleased to announce that the Plug-In Studio has been awarded a 2016 Propeller Fund Grant for our latest project, The Anti-WarGames Collective: Counter Recruitment Videogames. We're really excited to have two amazing collaborators on this project, artists Eric Garcia and Michael Figueroa.

About the Anti-WarGames project: To bolster the number of active military personnel in the wake of 9/11, the US military initiated a concerted effort to recruit Latinos, particularly young people from low-income and immigrant communities, through the use of videogames. To help teens look more critically at these games, the Plug-In Studio will work with Latino artists Erica Garcia and Michael Figueroa, both military veterans, to collaboratively produce a series of counter-recruitment videogames with Latino teenagers that explore the real life consequences of serving in the military, critique the representation of the military in videogames, and criticize the military's use of videogames to recruit teens. This project will culminate in a street arcade event in Fall 2017. Stay tuned for updates....

The Plug-In Studio is excited to be part of the FabLearn Stanford 2016 Conference, "Diversity in Making: People, Projects, & Powerful Ideas."
Kerry will give a panel presentation on the Street Arcade on Saturday October 15 @ 10 am on the Stanford campus. Co-panelists include: Colin Dixon of UC Davis who is presenting a scientific research and environmental justice project with teens in a program of the East Bay Academy for Young Scientists, and Tarrey Banks from The Project School in Bloomington, IN who will discuss their year-long, multidisciplinary design project on aquaponics.

FabLearn disseminates ideas, best practices and resources to support an international community of educators, researchers and policy makers committed to integrating the principles of educational makerspaces and constructionist learning into formal and informal K-12 education.

JUL / AUG 2016

Join the Plug-In Studio at the MIT Media Lab for the 2016 Scratch@MIT Conference. Steve and Luca will lead a Retro Videogame Lab workshop on Thursday Aug 4 and then we'll install a small version of the Street Arcade on Friday Aug 5. Read about how we used Scratch in the Street Arcade project from our essay on the Scratch Foundation Blog.

See the Street Arcade at BitBash 2016 on Sat Aug 13. BitBash is Chicago's alternative games festival and popup arcade, @ 1215 W Fulton in West Loop. Play 8 of the games on one of our custom arcade cabinets.

MAY 2016

Join us for the Revelations Opening Reception on Fri May 13, 6-10pm at Chicago Art Department, 1932 S Halsted....

MAR 2016

The Plug-In Studio presented at SXSWedu.

Kerry gave a Playground Talk called The Street Arcade: Socially Engaged Video Games on Monday, Mar 7 @ 4 pm in the Austin Convention Center Ballroom EFG.

FEB 2016

Teen artists can sign up now for REVELATIONS AUGMENTED GRAFFITI, a digital street art project we're doing in partnership with The Graffiti Institute. In this tactical media project, Kerry Richardson and Miguel Aguilar/Kane One will work with 11 teen artists from the Pilsen area to create augmented reality graffiti where digital art is overlaid on a physical space through an augmented reality app on a smart phone. This project is FREE for teens; funds generously provided by Chicago Art Department through its Learning Is A Lifestyle public action project. Additional support from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

JAN 2016

The Scratch Foundation recently invited us to publish a photo essay on our experiences realizing the Street Arcade. Read our narrative detailing the nuts and bolts of the project and the role of the Scratch programming language in our process here.

DEC 2015

The Street Arcade named BEST IN SHOW at ARC Gallery's "I Can't Breathe" juried show.

Register now for Bits + Beats: Creative Coding for Music Videos, a free class for South Side teens at Hyde Park Art Center. Create pulsating patterns of colors and shapes to accompany your favorite song using Processing, a coding language made by artists for artists. No coding experience necessary! More info here.

NOV 2015

The Street Arcade installed at ARC Gallery as part of a juried show called "I Can't Breathe."

Joins us at the opening on Friday Dec 4 6-9 pm. A small version of the Street Arcade (1 console with all the games) will be mounted in the gallery from Nov 25 - Dec 19. More info here.

Other events this fall...
e-Textiles workshop for girls only. Nov 18, Breakthrough Arts and Science Academy in East Garfield Park. Kerry Richardson lead a soft circuits workshop for girls using Adafruit Gemmas and LEDs. More info here.

Electronics && Cardboard!
Three ArtMakerSpace events at Chicago Public Library branches this fall. Young people and their families are invited to join the Plug-In Studio to make interactive, kinetic sculpture at these free workshops at the Avalon, Logan Square, and Sherman Park branches. Registration required, contact the branch for more info.

And some news...
We'll be presenting the Street Arcade project at SXSWedu (South By Southwest) in Austin TX on March 7, 2016. Stay tuned for more info...

SEP 2015

The Street Arcade was a huge success! See photos from the event and play the original social issue videogames here....

Coming in October...
A new digital art course offering for teens: MegaPixels. Taught by Lindsey French, this course is offered at the Hyde Park Art Center and is free to teens attending South Side high schools.

JUL 2015

The Street Arcade videogame project is now underway. Steve Ciampaglia and Kerry Richardson are collaborating with 13 teen artists to create art games based on issues the teens choose. The project culminates in an outdoor Street Arcade on September 2 from 7-9:30 pm with custom-made, old-school console controllers and large screen video projection. More info here. This project is generously supported by A Blade of Grass Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art.

We are also very pleased to announce that the Plug-In Studio will be collaborating with The Graffiti Institute on an Augmented Reality Graffiti project this fall.

Also this summer: Plug-In Studio artist Anthony Ladson taught two summer camps for elementary and middle school students at Oak Park Education Foundation's BASE camp.

APR 2015

The Plug-In Studio is very pleased to announce that we were named 2015 Fellows by A Blade of Grass Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art.

From A Blade of Grass (ABOG):
ABOG selected seven artists and one artist collective as 2015 recipients of the ABOG Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art. Sol Aramendi, Laura Chipley, Steven Ciampaglia & Kerry Richardson, Suzanne Lacy, Mary Mattingly, Nigel Poor, Dread Scott and Adaku Utah will receive a one-year fellowship that pairs project support with strategic assistance, assessment tools, video documentation, and other tailored resources. Fellows applied via a nationwide open call and were chosen for their outstanding artistic ability, the innovative and ambitious quality of their proposed projects, and the viability of their projects in everyday life.

Our ABOG Fellowship will support The Street Arcade, a collaborative, community-based, new media art project set to begin this summer in Chicago.

MAR 2015

LEVEL UP: 3D Video Game Design for Teens, taught by Anthony Ladson at the Hyde Park Art Center, is free to teens attending South Side high schools.

JAN 2015

A course offering for teens: Video Game Design. Taught by Miguel Perez and Anthony Ladson, this course is offered at the Hyde Park Art Center and is free to teens attending South Side high schools.

DEC 2014

The Plug-In Studio is hosting an ArtMakerSpace event at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Join us for an afternoon of physical computing using cardboard + electronics at the MCA's December Family Day program. Best for ages 3-10.

Saturday DEC 13 from 11am-3pm

NOV 2014

Steve and Kerry presented at the Creative Technologies Symposium at Teachers College Columbia University in New York. We hosted one of our ArtMakerSpace events for participants (cardboard + electronics) and presented a poster on our 8-bit Art Games projects.

OCT 2014

Kerry and Steve presented at FabLearn 2014: Conference on Creativity and Fabrication in Education at Stanford University in sunny Palo Alto. We presented "The Plug-In Studio: Art Education for the Maker Age" and hosted a workshop roundtable on the hand-cranked cardboard automata projects we've done with 1st year BFA students at SAIC, adult learners at the Harold Washington Public Library, and pre-service art teachers at NIU.

OCT 2014

The Plug-In Studio was recently highlighted on the website of the Scratch Foundation. The Scratch Foundation supports projects to make coding more accessible and appealing for everyone. The Foundation Retro 8-bit Video Game Lab. Read more about our art game classes and use of Scratch here.

FALL 2014

This fall, we're offering the Art + Tech Maker Studio for teens attending South Side high schools. This class is offered in partnership with the Hyde Park Art Center and starts September 30. Students will make interactive, kinetic sculpture and installation works using littleBits, including the new programmable Arduino Bit.


Steve and Kerry (and Luca) presented at the Scratch@MIT Conference on Aug 6-9.

Poster session Aug 7:
The Plug-In Studio: a Portable Classroom
Poster session Aug 8:
Creating 8-Bit Art Games with Scratch
Panel Aug 9:
Scratching Deeper: Expanding Accessibility


The Plug-In Studio is leading free workshops at the Chicago Public Library Innovation Lab:

Jun 14:   Scratch
Jul 22:    Scratch
Aug 25:  Handmade Cardboard Automata

Workshops are free and open to anyone 14 years + older.

MAY 2014

The Plug-In Studio was featured on the littleBits website. littleBits are one of the tools we used in the ArtMakerSpace series. littleBits highlighted the project as a case study for a Nonprofit Out-of-School Education Program. Visit the littleBits blog here.
Download the pdf of our interview here.

APRIL + MAY 2014

The Plug-In Studio hosted a series of pop-up, drop-in, art + tech maker events at community partner sites around Chicago. Read about the ArtMakerSpace series here.

See tons of photos and videos here.

Funding for the ArtMakerSpace series is generously provided by The Propeller Fund.


The Plug-In Studio is currently offering a class called ROBOTIC ART at our partner site, the Hyde Park Art Center. Students are using PicoCrickets to design, build and program interactive, kinetic sculpture from Legos and found materials. Plug-In Studio Co-Founder/Co-Director Steve Ciampaglia is teaching this class along with Miguel Perez, a recent graduate from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


The Plug-In Studio offered 8-Bit GAMES, a video game class using Scratch and the old school, 8-bit aesthetics of Atari at our partner site, the Hyde Park Art Center. Plug-In Studio Co-Founder/Co-Director Steve Ciampaglia is teaching this class along with our fantastic teaching assistant Miguel Perez.