The son of Norwegian Lutheran pastors going back 6 generations, Preus (rhymes with choice – 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, currently works as an artist, builder, fabricator, amateur writer, musician, and collaborator.
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. He worked with Theaster Gates as the Creative Director of the Rebuild Foundation, and as the lead fabricator in his studio, leaving in 2012 to focus on his own work. In 2012 Preus led a crew of builders from Chicago, Sweden, Egypt and Germany to rehab the vacant Huguenot House in Kassel, Germany, for Theaster Gates’ Documenta 13 piece, 12 Ballads for Huguenot House. Preus also co-founded SHOP with artist and curator, Laura Shaeffer.
Preus holds 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, which includes a 2-year apprenticeship with award-winning hand-tool master, John Nesset, and some years working in cabinet shops and on carpentry crews. Exhibitions of his work include the Huguenot House, Kassel, Germany during dOCUMENTA 13, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Heilbronn Kunstverein-Germany, 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, EXPO Chicago. Preus was the 2013-2014 Jackman-Goldwasser fellow at the Hyde Park Art Center, and received the first place MAKER grant and the Efroymson Fellowship in 2014. Preus lives with his wife and 3 children in West Rogers Park on the north side of Chicago.