Mike Rea (USA)


Artist’s statement

Mike Rea has conflated the notions of working hard and playing hard for over a decade with his bombastic wooden sculptures. Replicated and reinvented moments of cinematic horror, science fiction, comedy, and drama intermingle with memory to form bizarre personal narratives. 

Over the years, each uncanny conglomeration of familiar objects and themes has both thrilled and confounded audiences. The delight in the experience of Mike Rea’s vision is the balance between a feeling of understanding that is quickly replaced by new, surprising discoveries. Whether as conventional sculptures standing alone or as props in interactive installations and performances, these often-massive objects reflect a culture of humor, violence, vulgarity, and sensitivity.



Artist’s bio

Mike Rea was born and raised in the southern suburbs of Chicago. He received his MFA in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He then returned to Chicago, where he now lives and works. Rea currently teaches sculpture at Northern Illinois University. 

Over the past decade Rea has explored pop culture and American identity through large garish sculptures, installations, and performances constructed from wood. Rea's work often employs a wry sense of humor combined with a meticulous and compulsive constructive process.

Rea has exhibited at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; Ebersmoore Gallery, Chicago; Western Exhibitions, Chicago; Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco; the Scion Installation LA Gallery, Culver City; and the Elmhurst Art Museum, Elmhurst, Illinois. 

Rea contributed to the Forest Art Path in Darmstadt, Germany. His work was included in Power of Making at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2012 and 10,000 Hours at the Kunstmuseum Thurgau in Switzerland. More recently Rea collaborated with Kelly Kaczynski at Threewalls in Chicago on a show titled Odie Off; he also collaborated with artist Geoffrey Todd Smith on the drawing project / exhibition / book Sharks, Dicks, and Drugs at Gold Star Bar, Chicago. In September 2012 Rea had a solo exhibition at Ebersmoore, and he recently participated in the group exhibition Weird Dude Energy at Heaven Gallery and in the faculty exhibition at the Northern Illinois University Art Museum. In the winters of 2014 and 2016 Rea had solo exhibits at Devening Projects, Chicago, and in fall 2014, he had a show at the DeVos Art Museum in Marquette, Michigan. Rea has most recently had solo exhibitions at the Franklin in Chicago and the Pitch Project in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.