Good Places for Ceramic Art: Flint Institute of Arts.

Photos and reporting by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, IL, 62035, USA.  If you enjoyed this post, then give me a “like” on my Facebook page.      There is additional information about Beachfront Pottery on my web site.

The Venue



This is the signature side of the Flint Institute of Arts.  The entrance is on the right side of the picture.





The mission:  To advance the understanding and appreciation of art for all through collections, exhibitions, and educational programs

The History

The Flint Art Institute has a long history with contemporary ceramics.  In 1930, just two years after the founding of the Flint Institute of Arts, a clay forming modeling was started by J Emmett Schultz, a ceramic modeler for the AC Spark Plug tile company.

Instructors at the Flint Institute of Arts included employees of the Flint Faience and Tile company, as well as alumni of the Cranbrook Academy of Art, including Kathryn Sharbaugh, Guy Adamec, and Craig Hinshaw. In 1978 students formed the Clay Club, a group organized to support clay classes and the purchase of equipment and books which still operates today.

The Flint Institute of Arts began collecting ceramic in the mid 20th century, and its collection has been substantially increased by gifts from Dr, Robert and Deanna Harris Burger, for whom the gallery is named

Dr. Robert (Bob) and Deanna (Debbie) Harris Burger have been collecting contemporary ceramic works of art since the 1970s. Debbie credits her fascination with art to art classes at Flint Institute of Art.  They were inspired by the beautiful forms, colors, and innovative techniques used to create the artworks. Today, the Burgers reside in Florida and together have built an impressive art collection using the knowledge they have gained through studying and visiting exhibitions, galleries, studios, private collections, and taking studio classes. Since 2005, the Burgers have donated more than 300 works of art to the Flint Institute of Arts, including nearly 300 ceramic works and 70 works of other mediums. Additional works of contemporary ceramics were gifted to the Flint Institute of Arts in 2018 from the Sidney Swidler Collection.

Here are two recent exhibit indicating the commitment to contemporary ceramics.

1. Function, Form, and Fantasy: Ceramics from the Dr. Robert and Deanna Harris Burger Collection from May 7, 2016 – August 14, 2016.

Ceramics that are more traditional in form or shape will be explored, as will the artwork of ceramicists who used a more sculptural and fantastical approach. Many began with familiar shapes but manipulated the forms so that the original shape is no longer recognizable. While some ceramicists used this new freedom from function to push the possibilities of form, shape, and color, others ventured into figuration, narrative subject matter, and manipulation of historical and traditional forms.

The ceramics in Function, Form, and Fantasy range from bold, expressionistic forms to simple, elegant motifs, from sizes smaller than 3 inches tall to larger-than-life. Inspired by the beautiful forms, colors, and innovative techniques used by well-known ceramicists, including Peter Voulkos, Viola Frey, Adrian Saxe, and Patti Warashina, artworks in the exhibition are both thought-provoking and mysterious, blurring the lines between craft and fine art.

2. Breaking with Tradition: Contemporary Ceramics from April 21, 2018 – January 27, 2019.  I will be writing a three-part blog about this exhibit that I visited in August.

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