For the past decade John Preusís interdisciplinary art practice has poetically investigated and sparked dialogue about contemporary social-political, civic, and labor structures. In The Relative Appetite of Hungry Ghosts, his first solo exhibition at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Preus has developed an installation of sculptural furniture from materials salvaged from the 49 Chicago Public elementary schools that were closed in 2013, a single act that displaced 12,000 children in the cityís south and west neighborhoods.
The soft wood in Preusí bricolage cubes, swing set, and bench reveal graphite scribbles, sticker sediment, carved initials, and red gum: individual traces of student wear. The salvaged desks and chairs, rubble of democratic and civic education, become restored and reassembled into endlessly creative, alluring furniture and sculpture.
Preus approaches his materials with a sensitivity, craftsmanship, and concern for artistry that esteems labor and craft. At the same time, his artfully repurposed works reference Surrealist assemblage and Duchampís Readymade. The transformative objects in The Relative Appetite of Hungry Ghosts provide hope that artistic ingenuity can revitalize and untangle even the most disheartening political messes.