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Artist Makoto Fujimura: Creatively Caring for Culture

Culture Care author's is artistically restoring the goodness, truth and beauty of God's creation.

Photo Credit: Windrider Productions


I have had the honor and pleasure of meeting and getting to know Master Artist Makoto "Mako" Fujimura. As a voice of influence in the arts world, Fujumura's empathy for culture and its renewal is an inspiring change within the arts community, overflowing into a plethora of other areas in society. While working on my doctoral dissertation, which focuses on artists' discipleship, I was blessed to read Culture Care, which helped me gain an even more profound empathy for our culture's creators. The artist subculture is an invaluable tool of transformation in our culture. God is working through the arts to restore beauty, goodness, and truth.


Makoto Fujimura is a leading contemporary artist whose process-driven, refractive "slow art" is acclaimed by David Brooks of the New York Times as "a small rebellion against the quickening of time." Robert Kushner, in the mid-'90s, written on Fujimura's art in Art in America this way: "The idea of forging a new kind of art, about hope, healing, redemption, refuge, while maintaining visual sophistication and intellectual integrity is a growing movement, one which finds Makoto Fujimura's work at the vanguard." Fujimura's art has been featured widely in galleries and museums worldwide in notable collections, including The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, The Huntington Library, and Tikotin Museum in Israel. Waterfall Mansion in New York City and Artrue International represent his artworks in Asia exhibited at various venues, including Dillon Gallery in New York, Sato Museum in Tokyo, The Tokyo National University of Fine Arts Museum, Bentley Gallery in Arizona, Gallery Exit, and Oxford House at Taikoo Place in Hong Kong, Vienna's Belvedere Museum, Shusaku Endo Museum in Nagasaki. He is one of the first artists to paint live on stage at New York City's legendary Carnegie Hall as part of an ongoing collaboration with composer and percussionist Susie Ibarra.


Charis-Kairos (The Tears of Christ) by Makoto Fujimura


Fujimura is also an arts advocate, writer, and speaker recognized worldwide as a cultural influencer. A Presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts from 2003-2009, Fujimura served as an international advocate for the arts, speaking with decision-makers and advising governmental policies on the arts. His book "Refractions" (NavPress) and "Culture Care" (IVPress) reflect many of his thesis on arts advocacy wrote during that time. His books have won numerous awards. His books have won numerous awards, including the Aldersgate Prize for "Silence and Beauty" (IVPress). In 2014, the American Academy of Religion named Fujimura as its 2014 "Religion and the Arts" award recipient. This award is presented annually to professional artists who have made significant contributions to the relationship of art and religion, both for the academy and a broader public. Previous recipients of the award include Meredith Monk, Holland Cotter, Gary Snyder, Betye & Alison Saar, and Bill Viola.


Fujimura's passion and resolve to care for culture is reflected on the pages of Culture Care: Reconnecting With Beauty for Our Common Life:


"Effective stewardship leads to generative work and a generative culture. We turn wheat into bread—and bread into community. We turn grapes into wine—and wine into occasions for joyful camaraderie, conviviality, conversation, and creativity. We turn minerals into paints—and paints into works that lift the heart or stir the spirit. We turn ideas and experiences into imaginative worlds for sheer enjoyment and to expand the scope of our empathy."

A popular speaker, Mako has lectured at numerous conferences, universities, and museums, including the Aspen Institute, Yale, Princeton and Oxford Universities, Sato Museum, and the Phoenix Art Museum. He founded the International Arts Movement in 1992 and Fujimura Institute in 2011. In celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible, Crossway Publishing commissioned and published The Four Holy Gospels, featuring Fujimura's illuminations of the sacred texts, which was featured at the inaugural exhibition at the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC. Fujimura holds four honorary degrees, most recently from Roanoke College. He also serves on the Board of Trustees at his alma mater, Bucknell University.

Fujimura founded the International Arts Movement in 1992, now IAMCultureCare, which oversees Fujimura Institute. In 2011 the Fujimura Institute was established and launched the Four Qu4rtets, a collaboration between Fujimura, painter Bruce Herman, Duke theologian/pianist Jeremy Begbie, and Yale composer Christopher Theofanidis, based on T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets. The exhibition has traveled to Baylor, Duke, and Yale Universities, Cambridge University, Hiroshima City University, and other institutions worldwide. Bucknell University honored him with the Outstanding Alumni Award in 2012.

He is a recipient of four Doctor of Arts Honorary Degrees; from Belhaven University in 2011, Biola University in 2012, Cairn University in 2014, and Roanoke College in February 2015.

Mako's Commencement addresses have received significant attention, being selected by NPR as one of the "Best Commencement Addresses Ever". His recent 2019 Commencement Address at Judson University entitled "Kintsugi Generation", laying out his cultural vision for the next generation.


Copyright 2021, William S. Barnett

No portion of this content can be copied, electronically stored, or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.

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