Interactive art displayed at DeVos

Macie Mitchell

Artist to talk, answer questions about his work and artistic process

Artist, teacher and Chicago native Mike Rea is coming to the DeVos Art Museum with a new exhibit: “Scenes of Sights and Sights of Scenes.”The exhibit opens at the DeVos Art Museum Friday, Sept. 5 with an artist talk at 6 p.m., and will continue through Friday, Dec.

Viewers will be able to interact with the art, according curator and director of the DeVos Art Museum Melissa Matuscak.

“There will be seven to eight new pieces that Mike has been working on over the past year or so,” Matuscak said. “They will be spread across the gallery like mini-movie sets, directly on the floor, so viewers can walk around and through them.”

This will not just be a walk-through exhibit though, or an exhibit of simple paintings mounted at eye level to the wall.

As Matuscak said, many of Rea’s pieces ask the viewers to be involved and to move around. His work allows viewers to be physically as well as emotionally aware of what they are viewing.

“As far as content, the sculptures are almost entirely hand-carved wood, made to look very realistic,” Matuscak said. “Mike uses a variety of cultural references in his work, including movies and books, so the work will be a mix of these references filtered through his imagination.”

There will also be a mini-exhibition separated from “Scenes of Sights and Sights of Scenes” that will contain one of Mike’s older pieces. re-MikeReaCourtesy

The piece is called “Mecha Suit for Stephen Hawking” which is a wooden-sculpted suit Matuscak said to be “designed to give the famous physicist a superhero physical presence.”

“As a curator, I was really drawn to this piece as I was thinking about the museum’s permanent art collection,” Matuscak said.

The Secord Illustration Collection is a permanent collection at the DeVos that contains several pieces of original artwork from science fiction book covers and comic books.

Some of these illustrations will hang in the mini-exhibit paired with Rea’s Mecha suit.

“It’s the first time we’ve paired a displaying artist’s work with the collection, so we’re excited to see the conversations that come out of this,” Matuscak said.

Rea’s work has been shown in galleries all over the world, according to Rea’s website, and students and community members are excited to have his work displayed at NMU.

“I definitely want to see his exhibit and what it is all about,” sophomore photography major Samantha Neeley said. “I like art that is interactive because you actually become a part of the work that the artist has made and it gives you a chance to see beyond the paint on the canvas.”

There will also be a 30 to 45 minute talk with the artist at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5 in the Art and Design Building Room 165.

Following the talk will be a reception in the gallery where Rea will be available to meet people and answer questions. Here Rea will give a talk about his previous and current work in AD165.

Attendees will be able to get to know Rea better through this artist talk and learn about his influences and his artistic process, according to Matuscak.

“I always think that it is beneficial to talk to the artist and ask questions if you get the opportunity,” Neeley said. “I think it is amazing when an artist talks about their work because you find out so much about the artist or the reason behind the art.”

This event will be free and open to the public and there will be food and drinks available, prepared by certified executive chef Nathan Mileski from NMU.

Rea was born and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago and received his Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, according to Rea’s website. He returned to Chicago after completing his M.F.A. and teaches Sculpture at Northern Illinois University.

The DeVos Art Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through Sunday.