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 teaches sculpture at Northern Illinois University. 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.