This volume features four video works by artist Ezra Wube’s, each uniquely referencing time, urban experience and cross-cultural mobility. Born in Ethiopia, Wube is a mixed media artist that lives and works in New York City. His work focuses on the notion of past and present, the constant changing of place, and the tensions between “here” and “there”.
The Wake was filmed at the Invertebrate Zoology department of the Carnegie Natural History Museum in Pittsburgh. In the department there are old cabinets full of categorized butterfly specimens, neatly ordered in drawers. According to the artist, Dana Levy, “ I released 100 live butterflies [into the space] that flew among the dead specimens. The result is as if these dead specimens have now come to life. The work explores themes such as resurrection, life/death, release from captivity to freedom, and the transition from sleep to new consciousness. Leaving behind old memories and ideas to explore new ones. Conveying hope for a new discovered freedom.”
Dana Levy was born in Tel Aviv, Israel and lives and works in New York City. Her work includes cinema, video installations, and photography. Levy earned her Mast of Arts in Electronic Imaging at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee, Scotland and her Bachelor of Arts from University of the Arts London: Camberwell College of Arts.
Eager uses clay and stop-motion photography to create a riotous fantasy world populated by a cast of human and non- human creatures united in a state of continuous transformation as they dance, slice each other open, and wear one another’s bodies. Using puppets, in-camera effects, and incorporating materials such as clay, wood, fabric, glue, paint, and wire, Allison Schulnik builds her stop motion clay-mation worlds alone and without any digital manipulation. For this work Schulnik commissioned close friend and composer Aaron M. Olson to create a three-part musical score. Schulnik then choreographed, animated, and edited the film around his song and worked with cinematographer Helder King Sun on cinematic lighting and technical wizardry. Schulink choreographs her characters in compositions that embody the spirit of macabre, where comedy, tragedy, beauty, love, and death fantastically merge in a celebration of life and otherness. Discussing her practice, Schulnik contends, “I like to blend earthly fact, blatant fiction to form a stage of tragedy, farce, and raw, ominous beauty – at times capturing otherworld buffoonery, and other times presenting a simple earthly dignified moment.”
For hundreds of years, artists have been inspired by the imaginative potential of fantasy. Unlike science fiction, which is based on fact, fantasy presents an impossible reality—a universe where dragons breathe fire, angels battle demons, and magicians weave spells. With examples of archetypes from the last few millennia, Enchanted offers a thoughtful appraisal of how artists from long ago to the present have brought to life mythology and fairy tales, as well as modern epics like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. The exhibition includes themes such as children's tales, gods and monsters, knights in shining armor, and much more. Enchanted traces the development of fantasy art from Golden Age illustrators like Howard Pyle and N. C. Wyeth, to classic cover artists like Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo, as well emerging talents like Anna Dittmann and Victo Ngai.
Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration has been organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Non-flash photography or video with a hand-held camera or mobile device solely for private, non-commercial use, is permitted in the galleries unless otherwise specified. Selfie sticks are not permitted in the galleries.
“No matter how dark a situation may be, a camera can extract the light and turn a negative into a positive. In creating Flint Is Family In Three Acts, I see the role of photographs as empowering and enacting visible change: in Act I, the photographs bear witness and reclaim history; in Act II, the photographs reveal a hidden narrative; in Act III, the photographs are a catalyst for obtaining resources.” —LaToya Ruby Frazier
Flint Is Family In Three Acts is a multi-part exhibition by renowned artist LaToya Ruby Frazier. For five years, Frazier researched and collaborated with two poets, activists, mothers and residents of Flint, Michigan, Shea Cobb and Amber Hasan, as they endured one of the most devastating ecological crises in U.S. history. Resulting in a monumental oeuvre of photographs, video, and texts Frazier developed Flint Is Family In Three Acts (2016–2021) to advocate for access to clean and safe drinking water for all regardless of race, religion and economic status. The series records stories of surviving and thriving, especially within racialized and marginalized neighborhoods in Flint, to ensure that they remained visible in national debates concerning environmental justice. Drawing inspiration from the urgency in Frazier’s work, which also sheds light on building equitable and inclusive futures Stamps Gallery, part of Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design at University of Michigan, initiated a partnership with the Flint Institute of Arts and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University to bring this important exhibition together for the first time in Michigan. As co-presenters of this landmark exhibition our goal is to offer a creative pedagogical platform that reaches broader audiences across Michigan and beyond—Flint is Family: Act I (2016–2017) will take place at the Flint Institute of Arts, Act II (2017–2019) at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, and Act III (2019) at Stamps Gallery. The exhibition served as a catalyst to bring three disparate institutions together to deepen our understanding of individual and institutional agency in advocating for equity, transparency and environmental justice in our respective communities, while also highlighting the role of the artist as an agent for enacting positive social change.
In conjunction with the Flint Youth Media Project, the FIA will exhibit the award winners of the 2022 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.
Animals, both real and mythological, have occupied an important place in art from prehistoric to modern times, often carrying a rich variety of symbolic associations. These creatures have served as vehicles for allegory, moral instruction, and have stood as symbols for power and social status. The human relationship with other species is complex and ever-changing with images of animals in art continuing to entertain and inspire us.
From functional to decorative, the artworks in Walk on the Wild Side feature various animal groups from amphibians and reptiles to mammals and the fantastical hybrid creatures. The exhibition, drawn from the FIA’s permanent collection, explores animals and their place in culture through three-dimensional works of various time periods and media including stone, ceramic, and glass.
In the early 20th century, between the two world wars, a group of artists in the United States used printmaking to shed light on the major issues that faced the country, such as staggering levels of unemployment, economic instability, and poverty. This group, including such names as Adolf Dehn, Blanche Grambs, Harry Gottlieb, Harry Sternberg, and William Gropper were known as Social Realist artists since they used art to not only express their point of view but also as an instrument to bring about social change. Printmaking was an influential tool as it was more affordable and accessible than other forms of art—both for artists to create and for people to purchase. The Power of Print will feature works from Social Realist artists that address the major concerns of the early 20th century, many of which are still relevant today, including working conditions, fascism, racism, and women’s roles.
This exhibition explores the diverse world of contemporary art through the lens of the Rubell Museum’s collection. Art of the late 20th and early 21st centuries generally defy categorization and the “-isms” common in previous stylistic movements. However, the works selected from the Rubell Collection for this exhibition share the common theme of depicting the complexity of experiences that make us human. Through painting, sculpture, and photography, these artworks ignite emotional responses to various issues, including gender, race, sexuality, embodiment, identity, love, life, and death. By contemplating the past, present, and future, artists interpret their own and others’ existence through a thought-provoking visual vocabulary that transcends the limits of language.
Not meant to be an exhaustive or universal picture of contemporary art, Being Human highlights some of the best works and artists from the Rubell Museum, located in Miami, Florida, some of which will be seen at the FIA for the first time. Nor is this exhibition meant to fully capture what it means to be human, but rather to show some of the ways artists have dealt with complex realities, pointing out willful or inadvertent blindness to what’s all around us. In an era of doubt, confusion, and disconnect, this exhibition presents unique perspectives, not necessarily providing answers, but offering the way art provokes contemplation, understanding, compassion, and introspection.
The Rubell Family Collection was established in 1964 in New York City, shortly after its founders Donald and Mera Rubell were married. It is now one of the world’s largest privately owned contemporary art collections. In addition to displaying internationally established artists, they also actively acquire, exhibit, and champion emerging artists working at the forefront of contemporary art.
Organized by the Flint Institute of Arts and the Rubell Museum
Thinking Hurts Too Much is a slowly scrolling video that incorporates found and manipulated internet footage, creating a panoramic collage of gyrating, pulsing, and writhing characters to expose America’s—and the world’s—desire for the sensational. Cameron Gray pieces together thousands of pop culture images to offer a provocative and poignant depiction of excess and the constant urge to seek new and more extreme visual stimulation.
The video is an immersive experience that is constantly changing, as your eyes move from one area to the next, dancing across a screen that never stops shifting. In doing so, Gray makes us aware of the passage of time as we witness the reactions of other viewers standing next to us—reminding us of the separation that results from unshared memory.
European printmaking dates to the 1400s, when mills in Germany and Italy made paper more available for everything from playing cards to religious pamphlets. Artists in this early period employed relief printing, primarily woodcuts or wood engravings, but by the early 1500s the intaglio or engraving and etching process became the preferred method, giving artists freer rein to create highly detailed images.
The early 16th century through the 18th century saw the unlimited potential of the print medium, with these works spreading images of people and places across Europe that would have otherwise been unknown or unseen. Prints provided a way for artists to explore a variety of topics, including religion, landscape, satire, everyday life, or imaginary scenes.
This exhibition highlights works from this intensely creative period, featuring works by Old Masters, including Dürer, Goltzius, Rembrandt, Piranesi, and Hogarth, demonstrating a variety of techniques and subjects.
Minglings: A Journey Across Time explores a contemporary fiber artist’s engagement with the past. Inspired by
a tapestry remnant from China’s Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), Gerhardt Knodel embarked on an exploration into the potential of how this fabric from another time and place could inform his present work. While portions of the tapestry were deteriorating, Knodel isolated 40 separate fragments that included images of butterflies, flowering branches, undulating lines, and a blue sky. Each small piece of finely woven silk became a new composition of abstracted, incomplete subjects that he could re-create.
Featuring a series of drawings, fiber artwork, and mixed-media objects, the exhibition will lead you on a journey between cultures, beginning in China and arriving at the artist’s studio in Pontiac, Michigan. These works will also show how beautiful objects migrate through time, carrying with them their cultural identity but also being reinterpreted in the context of the current pandemic. Minglings demonstrates how the past is never dead in the hands of the artist, offering the opportunity for rediscovery and reconsideration.
Knodel’s studio practice spans nearly 50 years, 37 of them invested as Artist- in-Residence, then director, and now Director Emeritus of Cranbrook Academy of Art. He has exhibited internationally and is a recipient of numerous awards, including the American Crafts Council 2018 Gold Medal and the Distinguished Educators Award from the James Renwick Alliance of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Gerhardt Knodel gives a talk on his workshop and works.
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.
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.
Letting go of realist constraints, this sequence of mirror-images dives into a cosmic ocean of ever-metamorphosing baroque circumvolutions in which our minds try to capture reassuring forms before letting the ghostly demons blur our vision. The work of Nicolas Provost walks the fine line between dualities, balancing fiction and fine arts, the grotesque and the moving, the beautiful and the cruel. His works provoke both recognition and alienation and succeed in pulling audience expectations into an unraveling game of mystery and abstraction. Time and form are manipulated, cinematographic and narrative language is analyzed, accents are shifted, and new stories are told.
Sons: Seeing the Modern African American Male features black-and-white and color photographs by Jerry Taliaferro of 49 men from the Flint community. This exhibition is much more than a photographic study, as it also aims to explore perceptions and biases. In Taliaferro’s words, “Recent events point to the urgent need for conversations about the contemporary Black American male. Any effort, however humble, to foster an understanding of this largely misunderstood and often marginalized segment of the American population is of utmost importance.”
For his subjects, Taliaferro photographed men who were nominated by the community in early 2021. The resulting images are divided into two sections: first a black-and-white photograph of just their face, and then later in the exhibition a photograph in color, where the subjects were instructed to “be themselves.” Visitors will have the opportunity to reflect and reconcile their initial reactions to the portraits, after getting to know the men and their stories through text labels and QR codes that lead to interviews conducted by the artist.
This exhibition marks both the return of Jerry Taliaferro to Flint and the fifth anniversary of Women of a New Tribe, a popular exhibition that featured 49 black-and-white photographs by Taliaferro of women from the Flint community.
An accompanying exhibition catalogue is available for purchase in the Museum Shop.
McCombs Family Flint Non-Endowed Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint
For almost 40 years, Flint native Ed Watkins has taught visual arts and design, which emphasizes the importance of observational skills practiced in life drawing classes. For Watkins, however, “drawing from life” is not just a necessary technical skill but is how he defines his practice, using his personal observations and life experiences to guide what he creates. This exhibition includes drawing and mixed media artworks that are inspired by the artist’s African American experience, exemplifying moments of reflection, celebration, healing, and despair. According to Watkins, “While some Black artists desire to be referred to simply as an artist, I have always desired to make my Black experience the center of my practice as a fine artist.”
Ed Watkins received his Bachelor and Master in Education degrees from Bowling Green State University. Watkins is a retired adjunct instructor at Mott Community College, having taught classes in visual arts and design.
Bill Viola inverts the position and gaze of the television viewer in a series of 44 portraits of individuals sitting at home in their living rooms, staring silently at the static camera as though it were a TV set. Produced specifically for broadcast television, the original one-minute segments of over 40 subjects from the Boston area were intended as unannounced inserts during the daily programming schedule. Viola essentially subverts the time and space of broadcast television, as the extended duration of these real-time portraits interrupts the spatial and temporal field of TV scheduling, like edits. Writes Viola, “Two classical poses emerge in this work—the formal photographic portrait and the posture of the private television viewer at home. The work momentarily inverts the classical TV/viewer relationship, and television becomes a medium of reverse portraiture.”
Featuring objects from around the globe, from ancient to contemporary, this exhibition explores the creative capacity of works made to enclose and hold materials in a wide variety of forms and styles. As these objects demonstrate, the need to design vessels for multiple purposes led to elaborate creations not only in function but visual appeal as well. These designs reflect the artistic expression of the culture and time period in which they were made, sometimes restrained in ornament with subtle details, and other times unrestrained with extravagant and ornate surface decoration.
While these objects were once a part of daily life, from objects used in ceremonial settings to personal adornment, they have become artworks in their own right. A number of works in this exhibition push the boundaries of containment—acting to simultaneously hold its contents while allowing for a secondary element—like light or smoke—to permeate its walls. In more than 50 objects from the permanent collection, including never-before-seen works, the artistic possibilities of materials, such as clay, glass, and metal, as well as an array of highly skilled techniques, are revealed.
After water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world and it plays a profound role in many cultures. Over 2 billion cups are consumed per day worldwide. Because of this, teaware—objects related to the consumption of tea—has been a popular outlet for artistic expression. This exhibition includes contemporary teapots, tea bowls, cups and saucers and other tea-related objects from the museum’s permanent collection. Whether they are intended to be fully functional, ornamental, or somewhere in between, these artworks showcase the endless possibilities for creativity in teaware.
Teapots (along with other teaware in this exhibition) can hold clues to history, cultural and societal practices, identity, and self-expression. Many contemporary artists are drawn to them not only for their important place in the history of ceramics but also for the technical challenge. Making a teapot requires mastery of many techniques and is somewhat a rite of passage for many artists working in clay. Elements like the handle can be handbuilt, one of the oldest techniques for working with clay, while the body and spout could be produced on the potter’s wheel, all of which takes practice and skill. While some artists prefer to create functional teapots, others adapt the form with no intention of it ever being used.