From the Executive Director 

Dear FIA members,

Art with Attitude

Don’t take me as an authority. You have to settle all these matters for yourself.

—Robert Henri

Robert Henri’s advice to his students captures the independent spirit of American artists in the early 20th century. As a working artist and teacher, he influenced many generations of artists, encouraging individuality and subverting the dominant art trends. In the exhibition American Realism: Visions of America 1900–1950, organized by the Flint Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and the Muskegon Museum of Art, you will be able to see how artists grappled with the need to express themselves personally and also to define a national identity—to try and answer the question: what is American about American art?

In just five decades, a lot happened in the United States, not to mention the world at large. The magnitude of these changes was not lost on artists, and they seized this time to create what would become “American art,” though that term is less about style as much as it is about attitude. By attitude, I mean a point of view, a stance, taking up space in contrast to what came before.

While most American artists in the late 19th and early 20th century were influenced by European art and its capital of culture, Paris, what they wanted to portray started to evolve. They woke up to what was going on in their own backyard and decided the best way to capture the rapid changes was in the manner of “realism”—showing all aspects of life, from workplaces to domestic life, from fast cars to amusement park rides, from the metropolis to the countryside. They did not flinch to portray both the harsh realities of life (poverty, unemployment, and alienation caused by world wars and the Great Depression) and its lighter, escapist side (the release valves of movies, boxing, circuses, and beaches). These works are not monolithically American, however, and with every attempt to define a national identity, omissions and oversights occur. For this reason, the curators Rehema Barber, Sarah Kohn and Rachael Holstege (co-curators), and Art Martin (respectively from Kalamazoo, Flint, and Muskegon) include sections on African American and women artists as an acknowledgement that not every artist had the same experience, privilege, or opportunity afforded to them by the majority white, male institutions.

This variety of “visions” was made possible by a collaboration of three Michigan museums, pulling together their collections, as well as loans from the Detroit Institute of Arts, Art Bridges, and several Michigan (and Flint) private collections. According to an article by James D. Balestrieri, in the summer issue of Art & Antiques magazine, “… one of the signal achievements of [the exhibition] is that it serves as a reminder of the strength of the collections in Michigan museums.” There would be no strength of collections here without the vision and generosity of collectors and patrons who have donated or provided funds to amass these works. The people who have collected and loved this art over the years bear testimony to the power of art to capture something about ourselves.

Whether the works in this exhibition express an American or individual attitude, I say, in the paraphrased words of Henri, don’t take my word for it, see for yourself.

Tracee Glab

Executive Director

Tracee Glab is the Executive Director at the Flint Institute of Arts. She has overseen more than 100 exhibitions and curated 40 exhibitions, working with the community on such exhibitions as Jerry Taliaferro’s Women of a New Tribe (2017) and Sons: Seeing the Modern African American Male (2022). She has collaborated with other Michigan institutions for Common Ground: African American Art from the Flint Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and Muskegon Museum of Art (2015–16) and with University of Michigan-Flint faculty on Self-Expression (2017). She has worked extensively with contemporary artists, both locally and internationally. Glab has also overseen fifteen publications, contributing to the 50th-anniversary book Magnificence and Awe: Renaissance and Baroque Art in the Viola E. Bray Gallery (2011) among others. Her interests include exploring the ways objects of various time periods and cultures can connect to people thematically, most recently culminating in a lecture on “Beautiful Death.” Prior to her role at the FIA, she worked for 10 years at the Detroit Institute of Arts across many departments, including curatorial, publications, and education. Glab has her MA in Art History from Wayne State University and BA in Art History from University of Michigan-Dearborn. Glab was also honored with two competitive travel grants to London and Oxford to conduct her master's thesis research on the 19th century British painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Email Tracee

Officers & Trustees

The board of directors is the governing body of a nonprofit. Individuals who sit on the board are responsible for overseeing the organization’s activities. Board members meet periodically to discuss and vote on the affairs of the organization. At a minimum, an annual meeting must occur with all board members present. Additional meetings are likely to take place throughout the year so board members can discuss and make other necessary decisions. Board memberships are not set up to be permanent positions; most organizations have terms set up for board members, which typically fall between two and five years.

Kathryn C. Boles


Lynne Hurand

First Vice-President

Anton Thornquist

Second Vice-President

Elisabeth Saab


Jay Werschky


Thomas B. Lillie

Immediate-Past President

John Bracey


Willie Brown


Ann K. Chan

Founders Society President

Mona Hardas


Louis A. Hawkins


Carol Hurand


Dale Keipert


James R. Kettler


Alan Klein

Trustee Emeritus

Camille Koger-McCree


Asha M. Kulkarni


Matthew L. Norwood


Karl A. Olmsted


Linda Pylypiw


Dr. Brenda Rogers-Grays


Betty Salimi


James Shurter

Friends of Modern Art President​

Dr. Sharon A. Simeon


Theresa A. Stephens-Lock


Tiffany Stolzenfeld


David T. Taylor

Gregory G. Viener


Ed Watkins


Dale K. Weighill


Dean Yeotis