museum » from the director
It all began with a bequest to the Art School from the estate of long-time art school student Beth Howarth. Early conversations about how to best utilize the Howarth gift centered on the need for a larger, more accessible and more energy efficient kiln to replace one that is now over 50 years old. Unfortunately, current space confines would not accommodate the installation of a new kiln, which in turn, led to discussions about space reallocation and the need to expand the facility. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The FIA was founded as an art school in 1928, and today remains dedicated to the educational enlightenment of the public through formal studio instruction. Classes are offered to students age 2 to 92 in drawing, painting, photography, mixed media, printmaking, ceramics, glass mosaic, fiber, and metal sculpture.
For 60 years the FIA shared its studios with Mott Community College and the Board of Education. In 2005, the College moved its art classes to its campus, the school board discontinued their classes, and the Art School became the sole tenant of the studio space. The Art School now serves more than 20,000 individuals annually in studio classes, student/faculty gallery exhibitions, free family activities, and numerous other programs including K-12 studio work, homeschool, summer camp, High School Portfolio Development, and Healing through Art.
In 2011, the FIA converted the old, circular updraft kiln area to squeeze in a welding and fabricating lab for instruction in the design, fabrication, and assemblage of metals. Then, two things happened: the popularity of the welding program created a demand exceeding our capacity and ceramics production (20+ tons of clay/year) exceeded kiln and storage capacity.
In March, the FIA's Board of Trustees approved a plan to expand the 11,000 sq. ft. Art School facility by 2,400 sq. ft. Construction began in April and will be completed by the end of September—in time for the start of the fall session (see pages 23 and 24). The new addition to the Art School will increase the capacity, safety, and efficiency of two of the Institute's most popular art making programs and continues the legacy of providing an important life-long learning resource for the community.
The capital portion of the project has received generous lead gifts in addition to the bequest from the estate of Beth Howarth, including grants from the Isabel Foundation, A.G. Bishop Trust, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and Stella and Frederick Loeb Charitable Trust; corporate support from a number of local businesses; and gifts from individual patrons and students. We will continue to raise funds for new equipment for the welding lab, kiln room and proposed foundry. If you would like to support this project with a contribution please contact Kathryn Sharbaugh at 810.237.7324.
John B. Henry III