Of the Making of Many Books There is No End

Lynne Avadenka, Lecturer

May 2 | 6p | FIA Theater | FREE ADMISSION


Artist Lynne Avadenka will give an illustrated lecture about her artist’s books and prints and her collaborations with other book artists. She will share examples of book artists’ works that explore notions of identity.

“Avadenka’s work does many things at once, working across languages, motifs, history, and graphic balance to create something timeless and personal, adding her voice to the canon that she seeks to amplify with each letter she sets.” – Sarah Rose Sharp, writing about Avadenka’s work in Hyperallergic

Bio: Lynne Avadenka is an American artist/printmaker, creating multimedia work Lynne Avadenka informed by the Jewish experience and explorations of text and image. Avadenka has been active in the Detroit arts community since receiving her MFA from Wayne State University in 1981. In 2013 she was named director of Signal-Return, a Detroit nonprofit community letterpress print shop and arts center. Avadenka received a Kresge Fellowship in 2009, the inaugural year of the program, and has received individual artist grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and The Michigan Arts and Culture Council. Avadenka’s work is exhibited and collected internationally, including The British Library, London; The Detroit Institute of Arts; The Flint Institute of Arts; The Jewish Museum, New York; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; The New York Public Library; The Meermano Museum, The Hague, The Netherlands; The Watson Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Theater Stories of Ancient West Mexican Art

May 10 | 6p | Free Admission | FIA Theater

Dr. Kristi Butterwick, Guest Lecturer


Dr. Kristi Butterwick will discuss the stories that ancient West Mexican art tells. From the portraits of leaders, family, and kinship, the ancient people created their universe in beautiful clay sculptures, showing relationships and feasting celebrations. While the ancient people do not possess a name such as the Maya, Aztec or Olmec, their ceramic sculptures are among the most astounding and detailed pieces in the Mesoamerican art lexicon. Taken as a whole, the collection from the family of Ted Weiner gifted to The Flint Institute of Art is a stunning capture of life around 2,000 years ago in the environs of Tequila and Colima volcanoes in western Mexico.

Kristi Butterwick Martens received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1998. Her thesis was about Days of the Dead in ancient West Mexico. Her work has focused on ancient West Mexico since then. Dr. Butterwick’s research has resulted in publications and talks for the Chicago Art Institute, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, among major American museums. Currently she is researching the origins of agave production and pulque feasts in ancient West Mexico, based on art, archaeology and biology.

Kommareddi Lecture Series

Adorning the Self: Symbolism and Personal Identity

May 16 | 6p | FIA Theater | FREE Admission

Dr. Usha Balakrishnan, Guest Lecturer


In a museum setting, divorced from their ethnographic context and isolated from their cultural milieu, jewels are exhibited as just beautiful objects. However, they can form a unique visual legacy and metaphoric expression of dynamic societies, past histories, and design sensibilities. This lecture will delve into the rich tapestry of Indian history and culture through the lens of personal adornment. It will trace the intricate relationship between jewelry, attire, and the expression of personal identity, social hierarchy, and spiritual belief systems that have, since time immemorial, flourished on the Indian subcontinent.

Dr. Usha R. Balakrishnan is a cultural capital consultant and a highly regarded scholar of Indian art and culture. As a preeminent historian of Indian jewelry, she has been the former Indian representative for Sotheby’s, served on the expert committee of the Kerala Museum, and has worked for the Brooklyn Museum, New York, where she pioneered and steered the museum’s Mughal Jewellery project. She is presently Chief Curator of the World Diamond Museum.

A prolific author, some of Dr. Balakrishnan’s vast range of titles are Dance of the Peacock, a definitive volume on the five-thousand-year history of Indian jewelry; Jewels of the Nizams, the first publication on this renowned royal collection; Treasures of the Deccan, that brings together the fabulous Nizams’ jewels, artifacts and rare archival photographs; Enduring Splendor: Jewelry of India’s Thar Desert; Alamkāra: The Beauty of Ornament; India: Jewels that Enchanted the World; Splendours of the Orient: Gold Jewels from Old Goa; and Icons in Gold: Jewelry of India from the Collection of the Musée Barbier-Mueller. Her recent publications include Carnatic & Deccan: Bejewelled Past, and Munnu: Vision & Passion. She has curated, edited, and contributed to Diamonds Across Time, published by the World Diamond Museum. A forthcoming title includes Silver & Gold: Visions of Arcadia, The Amrapali Collection of Indian Jewellery.

She has curated jewelry conferences, and her work with museums has led her to curate key projects at Indian and international museums, as well as contribute essays to several museum exhibition catalogues.

This lecture is presented in conjunction with Meditations in Gold: South Asian Jewelry. May 16, 2024 - February 2, 2025

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Paradise in the Parlor: At Home with the Fowler Family

June 20 | 6p | FIA Theater | FREE Admission

Dr. Janine Yorimoto Boldt, Guest Lecturer


The group portrait of Delia, Milo, and Gertrude Fowler, the three youngest children of John Nash Fowler, has long been a popular painting at the Flint Institute of Arts. According to family tradition, the painting was created around 1854 in Clayton, New York, before the family relocated to Detroit, Michigan. The three children sit in a garden setting with an imaginary Edenic landscape behind them. Some of the portrait’s iconography suggests that it is a post-mortem portrait of the youngest child pictured, with the landscape referencing heaven. However, there is no archival record of a death in the family around the time the portrait was painted. This presentation will discuss the history of the portrait and the Fowler family and consider the painting in the context of their evangelical, Methodist faith. The portrait expressed moralizing lessons and values and can be understood in relation to domestic religious practices in mid-nineteenth-century America.



Janine Yorimoto Boldt is the Collection Reinstallation Project Associate at the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, where she is involved in planning the comprehensive reinstallation of the permanent collection galleries. Previously, she was the Associate Curator of American Art at the Chazen and a Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at the American Philosophical Society. She holds a PhD in American Studies from William & Mary and specializes in early American visual culture. Recent curatorial projects include re:mancipation, Resource & Ruin: Wisconsin’s Enduring Landscape, and Dr. Franklin, Citizen Scientist. Her scholarship on colonial art and portraiture has been published by Winterthur Portfolio, American Art, Panorama, and the DAR Museum. She is the researcher behind Colonial Virginia Portraits, a digital project produced in collaboration with the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture.

Images: American The Fowler Children, 1854. Oil on canvas 49 x 61 ¼ inches. Gift of the Estate of Mrs. Ernest C. Schnuck, FIA 1976.1

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