Summer Wheat (b. 1977, Oklahoma City, OK) is known for her vibrant paintings, multifaceted sculptures, and immersive installations that weave together the history of materiality, figuration, and abstraction in both fine art and craft milieus. Engaging individual and collective human experiences drawn from historical and contemporary sources, Wheat’s work examines various manifestations of labor, leisure, commerce, and class through the depiction of numerous figures and archetypes such as farmers, hunters, beekeepers, gardeners, weavers, bankers, and movie stars. The artist’s densely populated “scapes” envision worlds where time seems to have collapsed and every person, regardless of social status, occupies a shared/equal space, in which both labor and leisure are paths to healing humanity. Using a tongue-incheek type of humor inspired by comic strips, Wheat subverts conventional hierarchical structures and stereotypes to create more expansive depictions of daily life throughout history.
Wheat received a B.A. from the University of Central Oklahoma and an M.F.A. from Savannah College of Art and Design. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at the Mint Museum, Charlotte (2021); Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City (2020); KMAC Museum, Louisville (2019); Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles (2018); Smack Mellon, New York (2018); Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle (2017); and Oklahoma Contemporary, Oklahoma City (2016). Select group exhibitions featuring her work include, Yaro Pickers, Harper’s Books, New York (2020); Summer Wheat and Hirosuke Yabe, Wasserman Projects, Detroit (2019); America Will Be! Surveying the Contemporary Landscape, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas (2019); The Magnetic Fields, Gio Marconi, Milan (2019); SEED, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York (2018); More Material, Salon 94, New York (2014); Expanding the Field of Abstraction, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2013-14); beyond the stretcher, deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln (2013); and Paradox Maintenance Technicians: A comprehensive technical manual to contemporary painting from Los Angeles and Beyond, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance (2013). Wheat’s work is in numerous public and private collections, including the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; de Young Museum, San Francisco; Peréz Art Museum Miami, Miami; The Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, Seattle; The Mint Museum, Charlotte; and the Speed Art Museum in Louisville. Wheat has received several awards and prizes including, the Northern Trust Purchase Prize at EXPO Chicago (2019) and the New York NADA Artadia Award (2016).