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.
Mike Rea was born and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago. Rea received his Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After completion of his M.F.A., Rea returned to Chicago where he now lives and works. Rea currently teaches Sculpture at Northern Illinois University. Rea has exhibited at: the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, TX, EbersMoore Gallery, Chicago, IL, Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CA, the Scion Gallery, Culver City, CA. , and the Elmhurst Art Museum, Elmhurst, IL. Rea participated in the international exhibition/residency Forest Art, Darmstadt, Germany. Rea participated in the Power of Making exhibition at The Victoria Albert Museum, London, UK in 2012, and the curate exhibition 10,000 Hours at the Kunstmuseum Thurgau, Switzerland. More recently Rea participated in the Odie-Off collaboration with Kelly Kaczyinski at Three Walls Gallery, Chicago IL, and Rea also collaborated with artist Geoffrey Todd Smith on the drawing project/exhibition/book, Sharks, Dicks, and Drugs, Gold Star Bar, Chicagho, IL. In September 2012 Rea had a solo exhibition at EbersMoore, and recently participated in the group exhibitions Weird Dude Energy at Heaven gallery, and the NIU Faculty Exhibition at the NIU Art Museum. In winter 2014 Rea will have a solo exhibit at Devening Projects, Chicago IL and in Fall 2014 Rea will have a solo exhibition at the Devos Art Museum, Marquette, MI. Over the past decade Rea has explored pop culture and the 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.