The Union League Club is pleased to present an exhibition with Mike Rea entitled Neck Romancer. Over the past decade Rea has explored pop culture and the American identity through large 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. His work replicates and reinvents moments of cinematic horror science fiction, comedy and drama intermingled with memory to form unusual personal narratives. Rea presents the idea of sculpture as “prop” that requires the audience to activate the work through a relationship that is fueled by a desire/compulsion to manipulate the physical world. While the work may not be touched the romance/desire is fictitious: an inanimate object with potential energy that can suggest animation and/or narrative in an audience’s subjective experience. Over the years, each uncanny conglomeration of familiar objects and themes has both thrilled and confounded audiences.
Mike Rea has enjoyed solo exhibitions at the Elmhurst Art Museum, Devos Art Museum, North Eastern Illinois Fine Art Center, Contemporary Art Museum of Virginia Beach, EbersMoore Gallery and Devening Projects + Editions, both in Chicago, Indiana University, and University of Wisconsin. Rea’s art has been included in numerous group exhibitions throughout Chicago, the Midwest, California, New York, and Europe. He 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 is currently an Assistant Professor of Sculpture and the head of Sculpture at Northern Illinois University.