FIA Collection

Outdoor Sculpture

Not all sculptures in the FIA's collection are inside the museum galleries and sculpture courtyard. Across the grounds you will find some of our largest and most striking works. While we are closed we invite you to use this guide and explore the outdoor sculpture at the FIA. 

During your stroll around the grounds we ask that you continue to practice social distancing and please do not climb on the sculpture. 

Sydney Francis Atkinson, American, born 1946. Center of Mass, 1973. Painted steel, 26 × 208 × 250 in. Gift of Friends of Modern Art through anonymous donors, 1974.1

Sydney Francis Atkinson

Center of Mass, 1973

South Lawn

This large steel sculpture was created by Sydney Francis Atkinson. After he completed his BFA in sculpture at the Atlanta School of Art he moved to Michigan to study at Cranbrook Academy of Art. He graduated with his MFA degree in 1974, the same year that this sculpture was installed on the south lawn of the FIA. It was given to the museum by the Friends of Modern Art, or FOMA. The organization was formed in 1969 and operates with the main objective of providing funds for exhibitions and acquisitions of contemporary works of art. The group also organizes the annual Flint Art Fair, the fall and winter FOMA Film series, and other special events.  

Sydney Francis Atkinson, American, born 1946. Center of Mass, 1973. Painted steel, 26 × 208 × 250 in. Gift of Friends of Modern Art through anonymous donors, 1974.1

Pat McDonald, American, 1965 - 2015. Tornado, 2013. Painted steel, 192 × 168 × 264 in. Gift of the Friends of Modern Art, 2016.8

Pat McDonald

Tornado, 2013

North Lawn

This nearly two-story tall mass of red painted steel is characteristic of Pat McDonald’s sculptures. Despite its massive measurements, the form seems delicate and light. As the metal bends upward, it twists and turns like the rotating air of a tornado. Although it may be reminiscent of the well-known funnel cloud, McDonald wanted viewers to go on a “journey of personal discovery based on their own experiences.” He was drawn to materials like steel and concrete because they allowed him to explore large-scale sculptures that defied gravity and emphasized negative space, or the space around and between the object. 

Pat McDonald, American, 1965 - 2015. Tornado, 2013. Painted steel, 192 × 168 × 264 in. Gift of the Friends of Modern Art, 2016.8

Markus Schaller, Gearman, born 1967. Managed Cube, 2005. Steel, 80 × 79 × 68 in. Museum purchase with funds from the Collection Endowment and the Hurand Sculpture Courtyard Fund, 2013.65

Markus Shaller

Managed Cube

North Lawn

Markus Schaller is a German artist who studied at the Berlin University of the Arts in 1988. At a time when many artists were experimenting with video and computer art, Schaller was interested in working with forged metal. Although the tools have become more modern, the basic practice of forging, which has its roots in the ancient period, has remained the same. Forging is the process of forming and shaping metals through the use of hammering, pressing, or rolling. 

As you walk around the sculpture it morphs into different shapes: from one angle it looks like a pyramid, and from another it looks like a cube or an inverted pyramid. This interaction between sculpture and viewer, one that constantly changes, was important to the artist. It is not just the intentionally rusted metal that makes an impact; many of Schaller’s sculptures have stamped words or letters in unexpected locations. In Managed Cube you can see a series of eight words in German at the end of each rectangle. The top row creates the sentence; “ It fills up the time,” and each subsequent line is a variation of that phrase. Literature and poetry have always fascinated Schaller; but beyond that, these words remind us that there are many ways to articulate our world—through form, texture, scale, as well as text. 

Markus Schaller, Gearman, born 1967. Managed Cube, 2005. Steel, 80 × 79 × 68 in. Museum purchase with funds from the Collection Endowment and the Hurand Sculpture Courtyard Fund, 2013.65

Markus Schaller, Gearman, born 1967. Managed Cube, 2005. Steel, 80 × 79 × 68 in. Museum purchase with funds from the Collection Endowment and the Hurand Sculpture Courtyard Fund, 2013.65

Markus Schaller, Gearman, born 1967. Managed Cube, 2005. Steel, 80 × 79 × 68 in. Museum purchase with funds from the Collection Endowment and the Hurand Sculpture Courtyard Fund, 2013.65
Markus Schaller, Gearman, born 1967. Managed Cube, 2005. Steel, 80 × 79 × 68 in. Museum purchase with funds from the Collection Endowment and the Hurand Sculpture Courtyard Fund, 2013.65
Michael Dunbar, American, born 1947. Cassiopeia, 2008. Bronze, 60 × 72 × 108 in. Gift of James and Kenneth Kilian, 2012.33

Michael Dunbar

Cassiopeia, 2008

North Lawn

For more than thirty years, Michael Dunbar has been creating monumental abstract sculptures of steel and bronze. With their arcs, planes, and beams, they resemble giant gears and equipment with gleaming surfaces and precise attention to detail. The sculptures have the appearance of machines waiting to be activated and set in motion. Dunbar is inspired by the ever-advancing technology human beings continue to invent, noting “They're all about the celebration of the ingenuity of mankind, and how we started with these tools—which was a stick to knock the apple off the tree—and now we're exploring Mars.” 

This sculpture was inspired both by the exploration of the stars and the instruments used to study them; its title, Cassiopeia, is also the name of a constellation near the north celestial pole. Throughout history humans have used the stars as navigation tools, and we continue to look toward the sky to learn more about our place in the universe. Dunbar explores how this would not be possible without machinery and technology. 

Michael Dunbar, American, born 1947. Cassiopeia, 2008. Bronze, 60 × 72 × 108 in. Gift of James and Kenneth Kilian, 2012.33

Joseph McDonnell, American, born 1936. School’s Out, 2007.  Painted aluminum, 96 × 108 × 114 in. Museum purchase, 2006.126

Joseph McDonnell

School’s Out, 2007


West Lawn

Commissioned for the Flint Institute of Arts, School’s Out is a great example of Joseph McDonnell’s large geometric sculptures. When asked about the title of this work, he responded, “I heard a jazz tune by Dizzy Gillespie with that title, it reminded me of a child’s exuberance when the school year is finished and summer vacation begins. The shapes are reminiscent of building blocks.” 

McDonnell is an American sculptor whose artworks range in size from small to monumental in materials that include bronze, granite, steel, and glass. McDonnell received his BA and MFA from the University of Notre Dame and also studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy, and at the Harvard School of Design. 

Joseph McDonnell, American, born 1936. School’s Out, 2007.  Painted aluminum, 96 × 108 × 114 in. Museum purchase, 2006.126

Berthold "Tex" Schiwetz, American, 1909 - 1971. Birds in Flight, 1957-58. Bronze, 72 × 145 × 34 in. Commissioned by the College and Cultural Committee of Sponsors, 2005.58

Berthold "Tex" Schiwetz 

Birds in Flight, 1957-58

Front lawn, outside of main enterance

The College and Cultural Committee of Sponsors was a group formed in the early 1950s to support the creation of the Flint Cultural Center campus. This sculpture was commissioned by this group to commemorate the opening of the DeWaters Art Center in 1958, which was the new home of the Flint Institute of Arts. It was shown in the sculpture garden courtyard at the FIA until spring of 2004. A year later, after extensive renovations to the FIA building and grounds, it was permanently installed in front of the museum.  

In 1939, after studying art for two years at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Berthold Schiwetz went to the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, where he studied sculpture until he left to fight in World War II. Berthold, also known as “Tex,” returned to complete his education and eventually became the head of the sculpture department. He had a long career as a sculptor, establishing studios in Italy, Georgia, and Michigan.

Berthold "Tex" Schiwetz, American, 1909 - 1971. Birds in Flight, 1957-58. Bronze, 72 × 145 × 34 in. Commissioned by the College and Cultural Committee of Sponsors, 2005.58