In 1928, the Flint Institute of Arts was formed as an art school with the purchase of the Flint School of Art and Design, at that time enrolling 150 students. Today, the FIA Art School is ranked the sixth largest in the nation according to the 2015 statistical survey conducted by the Association of Art Museum Directors, an organization that comprises more than 200 major art museums in North America. The Art School's 16,000 square feet facility hosts studio activities for a large and diverse audience. Primarily serving the 1,500+ students enrolled in non-accredited visual art courses, the FIA offers instruction in drawing, painting, welding, ceramics, printmaking, glass, weaving, mixed media, and photography. Additional workshops in specific media such as experimental drawing materials, theatrical makeup, quilting, and ceramics glaze chemistry are also offered periodically. The school runs at capacity seven days a week and provides more than 11,000 student encounters annually.
In addition to fulfilling its purpose with year round classes, the facility provides the FIA opportunities to expand its reach by engaging the community through a wide variety of specialized offerings. For instance, recognizing the critical role visual arts experiences play in education, the FIA provides direct services to 3- to 5-year-olds enrolled in Head Start programs throughout Genesee County, as well as K-12 and homeschool children throughout 11 counties in the region. Activities are presented in the FIA galleries as well as in studios to foster the development of reading, math, and science. Related family nights enable children and parents to explore art concepts together and develop skills for strengthening visual literacy.
A Pre-College Portfolio Development Program is offered to facilitate the career pursuits of gifted high school visual arts students. Currently serving nearly 50 students from 15 school districts within the region, the main objective of this program is to further enhance student abilities through advanced studio instruction, college admission preparation, and exposure to various career paths within the arts. Over the course of the three-year program, each student produces a portfolio developed to showcase his or her individual strengths for college applications and scholarship consideration.
The FIA engages in Healing Arts partnerships that promote emotional and physical healing for patients undergoing prolonged treatment as a result of serious illnesses, such as cancer patients and individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Studio experiences in clay, watercolor, glass fusing, and printmaking provide an open, safe, and confidential environment that encourages self-expression and enhances motor and dexterity skills.
Throughout the year free family activities are scheduled in the studios to serve ages 3 to 93. Families are encouraged to participate in themed, hands-on projects utilizing new techniques and media.
In addition, Art School faculty, students, and artists produce and fire each year more than 1,500 handmade bowls for the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan's "Empty Bowls" event promoting hunger awareness in our community. The event raises more than $30,000 annually.
In all, the Flint Institute of Arts provides nearly 30,000 art encounters annually for students and other members of the community, and I invite you to discover the enriching experiences that await you, your family, and friends at the FIA Art School.
John B. Henry
John B. Henry