Cameron Gray, Swiss, born 1980. Thinking Hurts Too Much, 2013. Museum purchase with funds from the Collection Endowment, 2013.63

Thinking Hurts Too Much

December 1, 2020 - December 31, 2020

Media Arts Gallery

Thinking Hurts Too Much is a moving collage of internet-mined, pop culture footage. The glut of disparate, disconnected, and disembodied figures, some real (like former California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and pop star Mariah Carey) and some imaginary (Peanuts cartoon character Charlie Brown and DC Comics’ Batman), perform on layered keyhole stages, serving as a reminder of our profound knowledge of images aimed at the edge of acceptability and decency. The thousands of images pieced together become a provocative and poignant portrait of American excess and the constant desire for new and more extreme visual stimulation. Featured on the cover of ARTNews in 2013, Cameron Gray was presented as an example of an artist working in “The New Collage.” Gray describes this new approach “as a reaction to the culture that’s already there” and the inherent patchwork nature of the internet. Art blogger Adam Tetzloff describes Gray’s work in this way: “Like the culture that inspired it, the work is an eye-melting overload of images and ideas, as if the Internet suddenly ruptured and spewed forth into the black light din of Spencer’s Gifts. At once whimsical and menacing, the overlapping, ever-shifting, neon barrage of sights and sound seems at first to border on satire, skewering pop culture and the tropes of contemporary art.”

View More

Michael Robinson, American, born 1981. The Dark, Krystle, 2013. 9:34 minutes. Image copyright of the artist, courtesy of Video Data Bank,, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Dark, Krystle

November 1, 2020 - November 30, 2020

Media Arts Gallery

The Dark, Krystle features a montage of Linda Evans and Joan Collins from the 1980s evening soap opera Dynasty. The film rekindles issues of identity, consumption, and excess in 1980s pop culture. Michael Robinson reconfigures the rivals’ melodrama in repetition—theatrical breakdowns, nasty glares, excessive drinking—allowing viewers to feel the clichés recharged with new emotional power.

View More

Barry Andersen, American, born 1945. Grindavik 2, Iceland, 2016. Archival inkjet print, 12 x 18 inches. Gift of the artist, 2018.189

Field of Vision

October 17, 2020 - January 10, 2021

Graphics Gallery

The photographs in Field of Vision show how landscape continues to be a subject artists turn to when contem-plating the world around us—from the places we live, where we travel, and what we aspire to see. Since the medium was invented in the 19th century, photographers have approached landscape in many different ways. Early examples generally mimicked landscape paintings in terms of composition and theme but artists quickly realized the unending potential for creative expression. While some focus on land unaltered by the human element, others see this interaction between humans and nature as a fundamental part of their narrative. Photographers also consider if they want to capture the scene in a realistic, or objective manner or if they want to manipulate the composition to create abstraction. This exhibition includes sixteen photographs that illustrate the diverse ways artists approach the subject of landscape.

Graphics Gallery Sponsored by

Founders Society Logo

View More

Frank Owen, American, born 1939. Untitled, 1986. Acrylic on canvas, 105 x 105 inches. Gift of Geri and Mason Haupt, 2016.52

Pure Abstraction

October 17, 2020 - January 10, 2021

Henry Gallery Hodge Gallery

Beginning at the turn of the 20th century, artists began exploring the effects of creating purely abstract images where any likeness to a narrative would be coincidental. By composing expressive applications of color, line, and form, that intentionally had no subject, artists found that viewers would experience sensations and feelings not unlike those they have when listening to music. The movement evolved, taking on many forms and leading up to its zenith in mid-century when artists were characterized by powerfully expressive techniques of heavy gestural applications. Artists of the late 20th century through today sought new approaches and methods to maximize the medium’s emotional and expressive potential.

View More

Alex Hubbard, American, b. 1975. Color, sounds. Duration: 5 minutes. Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York

Hit Wave

October 1, 2020 - October 31, 2020

Media Arts Gallery

Alex Hubbard’s videos involve carefully choreographed and dynamically composed studio experiments with objects, paint, construction, and deconstruction. Hubbard is a Los Angeles- based artist whose work encompasses video art and painting, exploring the boundaries of each via a cross-examination that invigorated both media in new and inventive ways. Avoiding a single point of focus, Hubbard constructs his videos in layers, engulfing the viewer with bold colors, performative gestures, and evolving compositions in which movement is multi-directional and time appears to be non-linear. Often described as “moving painting,” the videos are a record of physical creation and  destruction, with the hand of the artist tangible, and sometimes visible, in the frame.

View More

Takeshi Murata, American, b. 1974. Untitled (Pink Dot), 2012. Color, sound. Duration: 4 minutes 25 seconds. Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.

Untitled (Pink Dot)

September 1, 2020 - September 30, 2020

Media Arts Gallery

In Untitled (Pink Dot), Takeshi Murata transforms footage from the 1982 Sylvester Stallone film Rambo: First Blood into a swamp of seething electronic abstraction. Subjected to Murata’s meticulous digital reprocessing, the action scenes decompose and are subsumed into an almost palpable, cascading digital sludge, presided over by a hypnotically pulsating pink dot. Murata produces digital works that refigure the experience of animation. Whether altering appropriated footage from cinema, or creating fields of seething color, he produces astonishing visions that appear at once organic and digital.

View More

Flint Youth Film Festival

August 1, 2020 - August 31, 2020

Media Arts Gallery

In conjunction with the Flint Youth Media Project, the FIA will exhibit the award winners of the 2020 Flint Youth Film Festival. The Flint Youth Media Project introduces the art of filmmaking to people ages 13–30 and college students regardless of age. In addition to a series of free filmmaking workshops, the program provides opportunities for participants to share their work with peers, professional filmmakers, screenwriters, and the public.

All of this years entries can be viewed on the Flint Youth Film Festivals YouTube channel from July 1-18.

View More

Alexis Rockman, American, born 1962. Forces of Change, 2017. Oil and acrylic on wood panel, 72 × 144 in. (182.9 × 365.8 cm). Collection of Jonathan O'Hara Gallery

Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle

July 11, 2020 - September 27, 2020

Henry Gallery Hodge Gallery

Referencing the past, present, and future, Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle examines the shaping of one of the most important freshwater systems—the Great Lakes. Considered one of the most ecologically significant environments in the world, the lakes are habitats for more than 3,500 species of amphibians, birds, fish, and plants. The artworks in this exhibition—including five 12-foot panoramic paintings—are based on the artist’s extensive research. While celebrating the natural majesty and global importance of the Great Lakes, Rockman also explores how one of the world’s most significant ecosystems is threatened by human forces including climate change, pollution, invasive species, mass agriculture, and urban sprawl. 

Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle is organized by the Grand Rapids Art Museum, with support generously provided by the Wege Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Frey Foundation, and LaFontsee Galleries and Framing.

Sponsored by

View the Virtual Talk Recording

View More

Nathalia Edenmont, Swedish, born Ukraine, born 1970. Eden, 2012. C-print mounted on glass. 60 1/4 × 68 7/8 in. (153 × 175 cm). Courtesy of the artist.

Beauty and Pain: Photographs by Nathalia Edenmont

July 11, 2020 - September 27, 2020

Henry Gallery

Surveying highlights of Nathalia Edenmont’s photography from 2007 to 2018, this exhibition reveals how her work and life are intertwined. Her early work focuses on the loss of her mother when she was a teenager. That life-changing experience shaped her artistic philosophy, with the artist stating that “there is no beauty without pain or pain without beauty, and in my mind, they are the same.” Her later work in the Fruitfulness series reflects her struggle with infertility. The women in these images—who are often a stand-in for the artist herself—also emanate power, showing control with their gesture and expression, conveying the idea that there is healing to be found through art.

View More

Jan Matulka, American, born Czechoslovakia, 1890–1972. Untitled Study, 1940–1950. Watercolor/ink and red pencil on paper. 11 x 8 1/2 inches. Courtesy of McCormick Gallery, Chicago and the Estate of Jan Matulka

Jan Matulka: The Unknown Modernist

July 6, 2020 - September 6, 2020

Dow Gallery

Closing soon, this exhibition examines Jan Matulka’s role in the development of modern art in the United States, focusing on the students he taught and other early modernist artists who were similarly approaching their art. Born in Vlachovo Březí, Bohemia, in 1890, Matulka immigrated to the United States where he studied at the National Academy of Design in New York. After graduating, he traveled to Paris, experiencing first-hand the avant-garde through exhibitions he visited and artworks he studied. While living in New York City, Matulka taught at the Art Students League, where he became the first instructor to introduce modern art to his students.

Download the Exhibition Catalogue

View More

Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Swiss. The Way Things Go, 1987. 30 minutes. Image courtesy of the artists

The Way Things Go

July 6, 2020 - July 31, 2020

Media Arts Gallery

In a warehouse, artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss build a structure made out of common household items. Then, with fire, water, gravity, and chemistry, they create a self-destructing performance of physical interactions, chemical reactions, and precisely crafted chaos.

View More

Matthew Wead, American, born 1984. Amadou Diallo, 2009. Woodcut on paper. 36 × 24 in. Image: 36 × 24 in. (91.4 × 61 cm). Museum purchase, 2009.89

Black Matters

July 6, 2020 - October 11, 2020

Graphics Gallery

This exhibition features a series of woodcut prints by artist Matthew Owen Wead. Each print depicts a Black individual who was killed by police officers or armed vigilantes. Many of the perpetrators were later exonerated of the crimes in which they were charged. These artworks are Wead’s way of confronting a system that is intended to protect everyone yet has subjugated and brutalized so many, and to remind everyone that Black matters.

Although the initial series was completed in 2009, Wead explains that it “has now become a never-ending and daunting task.” Included in this exhibition are three new prints portraying Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery.

From the Artist

"On a daily basis, every moment, black folks are being bombarded with images of our death and after a while that does something to your psyche. It's literally saying, ‘black people, you might be next. You will be next.’ But in hindsight it will be better for our nation, the less of our kind, the more safe it will be." - Patrisse Kahn-Cullors, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter

The intention of this series grew out of the pain he felt hearing, seeing, and reading about the unnecessary brutal force enacted on to these victims. To peer into their eyes was to show another point of view—to maybe strike empathy in the audience—and to allow them to think about how they would react in a similar situation. The title of the series, Shooting Targets, came from the reckless abandon that has been shown and addressed to black people, in both the interactions and then the aftermath, as an afterthought. Black people have become target practice, thrown away, and erased when the next news cycle hits. There is a repetition in the process of killing us without any repercussions for doing so, and sometimes being rewarded to do so. 

This was not meant to be a continuing series—it has now become a never-ending and daunting task. While this is meant to serve from the perspective of the artist, his statement is to look into the eyes of Black queer, trans, and all Black lives that are subjugated and brutalized under a system that was meant to protect them. Unfortunately, there are countless examples that could be included in this series—never to completion—and seems that it will never end in our lifetimes.

View Live Q & A Recording

View More

Viola Frey, American, 1933-2004. The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization, 1992. Ceramic and glazes. 95 x 202 x 66 inches. Artists’ Legacy Foundation, Oakland, CA. 2019 © Artists’ Legacy Foundation / Licensed by ARS, New York.

Monumental: The Art of Viola Frey

March 14, 2020 - October 25, 2020

Harris - Burger Gallery

This exhibition includes drawings, glass, and ceramics from the last 15 years of California artist Viola Frey’s life. When asked about her early artistic influences, Frey answered, “I had to make my own culture.” She found inspiration at her family’s farm in Lodi, California. From the discarded farm machinery that littered their property to trinkets from the local flea market, everyday items influenced her subject matter. In college she discovered art history and incorporated elements like ancient vessels alongside pop culture references. In the mid-1970s, Frey’s art took on the monumental scale for which she is most well known. Her backyard in Oakland, California, doubled as her studio for over two decades until she moved to an even larger space where she continued to create bigger, brighter artwork until her death in 2004.


Download the Exhibition Guide


Installation of The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization

View More

Erin Pollock, American, born 1982. Soot, 2019. Stop-motion animation. Charcoal, plexiglass, acetate, gesso, paper. Duration: 10 minutes. Courtesy of the artist.


March 1, 2020 - March 31, 2020

Media Arts Gallery

Soot follows a narrative of hand-drawn figures whose forms are constantly changing, erasing, and appearing. The artist switches the medium from charcoal on paper to marker on plexiglass throughout and manipulates the paper by tearing and taping. Erin Pollock graduated from Whitman College and did postgraduate studies at Gage Academy in Seattle and Studio Art Centers International in Florence before receiving an MFA from the New York Academy of Art, where she is currently a postgraduate Fellow.

View More

Still from Red Sourcebook, 2018, HD video. Courtesy of the artist.
Ilana Harris-Babou, American. Red Sourcebook, 2018. 4 minutes, 12 seconds. Single channel video.

Red Sourcebook

February 1, 2020 - February 29, 2020

Media Arts Gallery

Red Sourcebook was one of three videos exhibited at the 2019 Whitney Biennial by artist Ilana Harris-Babou. In all three, she uses humor and the language of advertising to draw attention to the ways high-end home furnishing brands often gloss over histories of oppression and inequality in the United States. Red Sourcebook juxtaposes imagery and text from Restoration Hardware catalogues with manuals on redlining, the discriminatory mortgage lending practice that effectively prevented many African Americans from buying homes.

View More

Whitfield Lovell, American, born 1959. Epoch, 2001. Charcoal on wood and found objects. 77 1/2 x 55 x 17 1/2 inches. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William L. Richards, by exchange, 2002.13


January 26, 2020 - April 19, 2020

Hodge Gallery Henry Gallery

Community highlights some of the most important African American artists in the FIA’s collection. Through paintings, sculpture, drawings, and photographs, this exhibition shows the diversity as well as the commonalities of African American art, encompassing thematic areas of people, place, and perspective. From portraits of well-known subjects such as Rosa Parks and Claressa Shields to less familiar individuals, these works reflect community. Place is portrayed through real locations and those imagined that nonetheless invite reflection. Lastly, perspective is offered through various lenses from realism to abstraction. 

Community Choice

Unique to this exhibition, visitors were able to vote for one of three works on loan by artists not currently in the collection. Voting took place through March 8, 2020. Using funds raised by the Community Gala, the work with the largest number of votes will be purchased by the museum. The work chosen by the community was Stephen Towns's The Gift of Lineage #5.

The voting process and subsequent purchase reinforce the notion that the objects in the FIA’s collection belong to the public while emphasizing the collection’s capacity for change and future growth.

The Gift of Lineage #5, 2018. Stephen Towns, American, b. 1980. Acrylic, Bristol board, metal leaf, natural and synthetic fabric, polyester and cotton thread on wood panel, 36 x 24 inches. On loan from De Buck Gallery, New York.
The Gift of Lineage #5
, 2018. Stephen Towns, American, b. 1980. Acrylic, Bristol board, metal leaf, natural and synthetic fabric, polyester and cotton thread on wood panel, 36 x 24 inches. On loan from De Buck Gallery, New York.

Stephen Towns is an American painter working primarily in oil, acrylic, and fibers. His work explores how American history influences contemporary society. Born in Lincolnville, South Carolina, in 1980, he received his BFA from the University of South Carolina. He lives and works in Baltimore. He has been exhibited locally and nationally and his work is in private and public collections, including the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City.

View More

Winfred Rembert, American, b. 1945, Miss Prather’s Class, 2014. Woodcut and silkscreen. 16 x 20 inches. The Anthony and Davida Artis Collection of African-American Fine Art 

​Wonderfully Made: The Artis Collection of African American Art

January 18, 2020 - April 12, 2020

Graphics Gallery

This not-to-be-missed exhibition of African American art from local collectors Anthony and Davida Artis highlights works that tell a story, especially as a means to educate, encourage, and engage the community. Wonderfully Made presents 18 works through the lens of the Artis family, featuring personal anecdotes regarding their collection.

Sponsored by

View More

Sam Jury, English, born 1969. All Things Being Equal, 2009. Single channel, looped video. 11 minutes, 58 seconds. Gift of Cynthia Griffin, 2016.3

All Things Being Equal

January 2, 2020 - January 31, 2020

Media Arts Gallery

All Things Being Equal is a looped video that explores the notion of suspended trauma. Through the visual tool of mass media, the artist shows how traumatic incidents from the past can repeat and replay, offering the viewer a shared experience. This video depicts the repetitive movements of a figure in confinement, beleaguered by water, an element both destructive and sustaining. Here the water moves almost as an independent agency, and the figure is neither suffocating nor surviving.

View More

Asya Reznikov, American, born Russia, 1973. Mapping: 23 minutes, 23 tongues. Single channel, looped video. 23 minutes. Museum purchase, 2007.142


December 1, 2019 - December 30, 2019

Media Arts Gallery

Asya Reznikov’s work explores how culture, tradition, language, and a sense of home shape and define our identity, as well as the ways immigration, emigration, and travel alter that identity. Mapping records Reznikov writing the names of the seven continents in 23 languages to form the world map. As a childhood political refugee, she is particularly aware of her cultural identity. The imagery is inspired by the myth of the Tower of Babel, personal experience, and data about contemporary language extinction. Reznikov’s use of languages is also an examination of the experience of both otherness and perception.

View More

Auguste Jean, French. Vase, ca. 1880. Blown and engraved glass with gilt, enamel and iridized decoration. Private collection.

Useful and Beautiful: Decorative Arts Highlights

November 16, 2019 - July 26, 2020

Ann K. Walch-Chan Gallery

Artfully crafted but functional items like vases, teacups, and flatware are often called decorative arts. The term was created in Europe after the Renaissance to distinguish these items from painting and sculpture. This exhibition explores an array of decorative arts including glass by Auguste Jean and Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Prior to the 19th century, most glass manufacturers were aiming for pristine, almost machine-made, objects. However, some artists were seeking a different, more handcrafted, quality. In the 1870s, Auguste Jean gained attention by abstracting traditional vessel forms. While the glass was still malleable, he used tools to create protrusions and ripples in the glass. He later decorated the surface with enameled and engraved designs. Louis Comfort Tiffany applied innovative glassmaking techniques to his nature-inspired designs. Favrile glass—a term coined by Tiffany in 1894—was made to resemble ancient vessels, which, when excavated from archeological sites, had an iridescent surface. Tiffany achieved a similar look by spraying metallic salts on hot glass, a new technique that created a lustrous finish.

View More