This week we got to visit the ACRE residency in Steuben, Wisconsin. As a partner gallery, we were invited to drive up to see the residency and conduct studio visits. We got to talk to two collaborating artists who will be showing at the Plaines Project this year, Seth Sher and Michael Vallera, about the work they’ve been doing while at ACRE. We also got to meet some other awesome artists and do studio visits with Allison Rowe, Jeff Austin, Todd King, Georgia Wall, Sofia Leiby, and Patrick Costello.

Next week, one of us will be returning to ACRE as a resident and will get to meet with the other three artists we’ll be working with this year, Steven Frost, Steven Vainberg, and Nick Lally.

There are a lot of amazing artists at ACRE this year and we are really excited to be involved in this upcoming season of shows!


A few weeks ago, I visited Lynnette Miranda‘s studio to talk to her about her upcoming show Rocks on Rocks on Rocks, opening this Friday, July 27. We began by talking about her experiences with nature and her nostalgia for an abstract idea of a nature with which she is unfamiliar. We discussed her research process, covering a range of topics, including domesticity, the home, photographers, landscape artists, romanticism, and the sublime. She explained how blogs, design, and fashion, and the appearance of “nature” in these media connect to her research and influence her practice.

In her work for her upcoming solo show, Rocks on Rocks on Rocks, Lynnette is exploring the connection between domesticity and fake nature. She shared her own history with the idea of home and the significance of having her own personal space to decorate and make her own. Lynnette is investigating the home as a stage. She remembers her aunt’s first home, decorated with an ivy pattern theme – ivy curtains, ivy wallpaper, ivy upholstery, ivy everywhere.  When women decorate their home, they are making their home their environment. It is a process of becoming one with their homes, creating “their own little world”, often utilizing images of elements found in the outside world, tamed and brought indoors.

Having recently read Judith Butler’s Performative Acts for the first time, along with a number of other texts on gender theory, I couldn’t help but connect to these during the discussion of the home as a stage and as a woman’s world. Historically regulated to the home, this is the only environment that women have ever had total control over, a natural staging ground for their feminitity. That themes of nature often come through in domestic decorating motifs can further be connected to perceptions of woman’s connection with earth (think, “Mother Earth”), materiality, growth, and reproduction. Though Lynnette is not specifically addressing issues of gender roles or performativity with her work, I feel that these themes are a subtle undercurrent that seep in from the subconscious of social history.

For the show opening on Friday, Lynnette is taking on the role of interior decorator, attempting to make a fake nature domestic space within the Plaines Project gallery. She is focusing on the use of rocks as decorative elements, the duality of what a rock can be – a discardable stone off the sidewalk or a valuable decorating tool. Through sculpture, photography, collage, and print, Lynnette is questioning reality, asking what makes something natural, real, or valuable.

Etta Sandry

One of the oldest technologies in the world, weaving joins two sets of tensioned threads at right angles to form a cloth. Weavemaker Pro is an expose of seven different personalities working from within the construct of a class to explore this grid. As weavers, we all start with this foundational structure and investigate concepts including play, irony, contrast, party, and melancholy, using a variety of different materials and techniques. We are investigating weaving as a medium, exploring what a woven cloth can be, utilizing craft for art’s sake. 

The seven weavers included in the show are students and recent graduates from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago:

Bryanna Bibbs
Krystal Difronzo
Susanna Dotson
Chelcie Laggis
Melissa Leandro
Moira O’Neil
Etta Sandry

Photo by Paul Germanos

Opening Friday June 29 7-10 at The Plaines Project.
1822 S Desplaines St, Chicago, IL.
The show will run until Friday July 6. Open hours are by appointment, please contact to view the show.

I don’t know what I want to say, but, to try to say something, I think I want to try to think. I want to try to see what I think. I think trying is a big part of it, I think thinking is a big part of it, and I think wanting is a big part of it, but saying it is difficult, and I find saying trying and nearly always wanting. I want what I want to say to go without saying.

-Martin Creed

Noah Furman is a Chicago-based artist working in painting, drawing, sculpture and performance. He has exhibited at The Hills Esthetic Center, Roxaboxen Exhibitions, and Knock Knock Gallery. He is also a member of the performance collective “Husband”.

Tonight from 7-10pm, followed by a music show featuring Fat History Month, T’Bone, Life Partner, Giving Up, and Lil’ Tits. The show will run until June 15th. Opening hours after the reception are by appointment. Please contact to arrange a time to visit the gallery.

It’s finally warm and sunny out and we’ve been sprucing up the backyard in preparation for our exciting summer programming. Our calendar for the next few months is filling up quickly with exhibitions and studio visits (and maybe barbecues). Over the summer we will be having two solo shows, one duo show and one group show. Solo artists include Noah Furman in June and Lynnette Miranda in July. Jason Judd and Juan Fernandez will be having a show together in August, and six weavers from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s fibers department will be having a group show in late June. You can find more details about these shows through our Upcoming Events page.

We will continue to work with ACRE as a partner gallery. Over the summer we’ll be doing studio visits with ACRE residents and we will host new ACRE artists starting in September. We have just formed a new partnership with Spudnik Press, which we are thrilled about! We will be working with Spudnik’s artist in residence, Polly Yates to host an exhibition of her work in early fall. We have also been talking to Meredith Weber of Happy Collaborationists about a future collaboration between our spaces.

Over the summer we hope to post more updates and content including information about what we’re working on as well as photos and write-ups from our studio visits. Stay updated through the website or through facebook. You can also join our e-mail list to be reminded of events. Contact us at if you’d like to be included on the list or if you just want to say hi!

The Plaines Project presents ULTRAVIOLETS: a solo exhibition of new work by Ellen Nielsen.

Ellen Nielsen is an interdisciplinary artist whose work includes sculpture, photography, performance, and video. She received her BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2008 and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011. Characterized by absurd humor and uncanny visual transformations, Nielsen’s diverse body of work explores the conventions of kitsch, femininity, and artificial nature. She lives and works in Chicago.

The opening reception will be held from 7 pm – 10 pm on Saturday, May 12, and will be followed by a basement afterparty with MTZ and DJ Jean Shorts.

The show will be up until Saturday, May 19. Gallery hours are by appointment. Please contact if you would like to see the show after the reception.

The Plaines Project and ACRE present an opening reception on Friday, March 23 2012 from 7-10pm at 1822 S Desplaines St, Chicago 60616. We have partnered with ACRE to host The Fidelity of Instrumentsnew works by Jesus Mejia, the next installment in ACRE’s year-long series of exhibitions by 2011 ACRE summer residents.

The exhibition is a reverie on distance traveled and the urge to continue.

JESUS MEJIA received his BFA from Columbia College in 2009. He currently lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.

The show opens Friday, March 23 from 7-10 pm and will run until March 30th. Open hours are by appointment, please contact if you would like to schedule a visit.

THE PLAINES PROJECT and ACRE present an opening reception on FRIDAY, MARCH 2, 2012 from 7-10pm at 1822 S Des PlainesSt, Chicago 60616. We have partnered with ACRE to host EVERY NOW AND THEN I FALL APARTnew works by ERIN WASHINGTON, the next installment in ACRE’s year-long series of exhibitions by 2011 ACRE summer residents.

Embracing materiality and labor, Erin Washington examines themes of vulnerability and permanence. Questioning how time structures transition in ephemera, EVERY NOW AND THEN I FALL APART features mixed-media paintings and sculptures which unravel time through the performance of their belabored making, and their subsequent degradation. Washington employs fugitive and charged materials (fire, ash, moss, bones and  saliva) to depict natural phenomenon. Colors fade or pigments are burned: the objects emulate the cycles they describe. The artists’ actions and products are in a constant state of flux, highlighting the disharmony between meaning, beauty, and a fundamentally messy universe. However, the temporality of the work’s making counters ambivalence; the immediate process and present-ness the work demands eclipses uncertainty… for the moment.

ERIN WASHINGTON, Continuing Studies and Special Programs Faculty at School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2011-present). BA, 2005, University of Colorado, Boulder; MFA, 2011, School of the Art Institute Chicago. Exhibitions: NEXT fair, Chicago; Zola Lieberman, Chicago; Julius Caesar, Chicago; Heaven, Chicago; No Globe, NY; Murdertown, Chicago; Zrobilli Gallery, Chicago; School of Fine Arts, Xochimilco, Mexico. Bibliography: Time Out Chicago, Make Space, Composite Magazine.

On a recent cold February night, I am standing in Ellen Nielsen’s warm and wood-paneled home. Techno throbs softly from the back room studio, and I am filling my eyes with stretch velvet and sequins, crochet and curios. The place has a hip mustiness to it, an afghan industriousness of polish grandmother’s drawing room flayed with neon updates. As I move over to inspect a shadow box displaying tiny spangles of all colors and description, serially arranged in rows according to a bizarre logic belonging to kindergarteners and people who haunt Micheal’s crafting stores, I am reminded of a quotation I have to look up later: “Decoration”, says Michelle Kuo, “is a kind of technology.”

We recently visited Ellen Nielsen at her Pilsen apartment/studio to talk to her about her work and about the show that she’ll be having at the Plaines Project in May. Read about the studio visit, written by Alex de Leon, here.

January 20 – Dressing the Loom Alex Miller and Lorraine Barger

Dressing the Loom is a large-scale installation that takes inspiration from weaving and presents it in an abstracted sculptural form. By breaking down weaving into basic concepts; line, tension, organization, building and layers, it emphasizing the beauty of the warp at the point before weaving begins.  Walking with the warp provides quiet meditation and an exploration of the state between tension and potential.

ACRE and THE PLAINES PROJECT present a closing reception on FRIDAY, JANUARY 27, 2012 from 6-8pm at 1822 S Des Plaines St, Chicago 60618. ACRE has partnered with THE PLAINES PROJECT to host DRESSING THE LOOM: new works by ALEX MILLER + LORRAINE BARGER, the next installment in ACRE’s year-long series of exhibitions by 2011 ACRE summer residents.