Eric Rhein’s work chronicles his experience and travels—geographic and mystic, childhood in the Appalachian Mountains and Hudson Valley, and decades of living with HIV. Arriving in New York in 1980 at eighteen, Rhein became a part of the East Village arts scene. His first works were puppets for George Balanchine.
Testing positive in 1987, Rhein began exploring themes of vulnerability and transcendence. In 1996 (as new medications restored his vitality) he conceived the series, Leaves, honoring the lives of over 250 individuals he knew who died of complications from AIDS. Leaves continues to evolve and is shown internationally. Rhein often uses photography and repurposed objects—materials as varied as wire, vintage books, and hardware—handling them with reverence and care. He received his BFA & MFA from SVA. Exhibitions include the Victoria and Albert Museum; Pera Museum, Istanbul; 21er Haus Museum, Vienna; American Embassies in Austria, Cameroon, Greece, and Malta; Addison Gallery of American Art; Leslie-Lohman Museum; Lincoln Center; the Bronx Museum of the Arts; and the Smithsonian. Reviews have appeared in the New York Times, ARTNews, and Art in America. Grants and fellowships include the Pollock/Krasner Foundation and the MacDowell Colony.