Faculty Sculptor's Work in Solo Exhibition

Michael Rea, assistant professor of sculpture in the NIU School of Art, will have an upcoming solo exhibition in Chicago.

The exhibition, entitled Exile on Main Street, will be held at Devening Projects and Editions, 3039 West Carroll, Chicago. This will be Mike's first solo show in the gallery.

The exhibition will take place in the off space and features a major new installation feature sculpture inspired by film. The exhibition runs from March 9 - April 12, 2014; the opening reception takes place on Sunday, March 9, from 4 - 7pm.

For over a decade, Chicago artist Mike Rea has used his bombastic wooden sculptures to conflate notions of working hard and playing hard. Regenerated moments of cinematic horror, science fiction, comedy and drama intermingle with memory to form bizarre personal narratives. The aggregate of this mix is uncanny and often thrills and confounds his audience. Rea's sculptures carry forward the familiar; very quickly those recognizable elements are subverted and meaning and understanding go haywire. Whether the work operates as conventional sculpture or as props within interactive installations and performances, these typically large-scale works sensitively reflect a culture of humor, violence and vulgarity.

Although he continues to mine pop culture and its stereotypes, in Exile on Main Street Mike Rea is discovering some edgy new themes. Pulling from the margins of literature and films, he's taking set pieces that one might barely notice and moves them front and center. Chain link fences, bathroom stalls and graffiti are meticulously reproduced in wood to become poetic moments of the desired and the strange. Replicated boom mics place the audience on the set, casting them as complicit participants in his production. Thrown into the mix is a set of three moody masks that hover nearby. The last and perhaps most peculiar sculpture is a large, mute wooden gong that makes the viewer aware of its comedic implications and racial associations. These objects and sets are familiar; they're almost clich├ęd in certain filmic and literary genres. Ultimately, it's the way Rea uses material from the constructed reality of fiction and places it directly in our own. The result is both funny and unnerving.

Congratulations, Mike!

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