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Culture Care And the Work of Makoto Fujimura

"Twin Rivers of Tamagawa" - Makoto Fujimura
One of the perks of my former job was the opportunity to meet amazing, talented, faithful people from all walks of life and all over the globe.

One of those is a gentleman, Makoto Fujimura, an American of Japanese descent. I met him through Acton University, where he was one of our keynote speakers, and then through ArtPrize in Grand Rapids.

Mako (I get to call  him by his first name...) is not just an amazing artist. He is also a profound thinker, and a Christian of deep and abiding faith. He is very concerned with the place of art in our culture - a line of thinking he refers to as "culture care" - and the important role all artists play in society. Art can heal. In his acceptance speech for the 2014 Religion and the Arts Award, he said:

I pray that artists will no longer have to be on the defensive as was Mary in that aroma-filled room while disciples grumbled that her perfume could have been sold to feed the poor. "What a waste," they said.  What a waste.  Is our art wasteful, too?

Art is gratuitous. Art is extravagant.  But so is our God.  God does not need us; yet he created us out of his gratuitous love. Jesus astonished the disciples by giving Mary the highest commendation anyone receives in the pages of the Gospels:  

"Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." (Mark 14:6 -9)

I pray that in the days to come, this aroma will fill the air whenever the words of Gospel are spoken, that outsiders to faith will sense this extravagant air and feel it, particularly for them. I pray that when our children speak of faith, this gratuitous, intuitive aroma of the love of Christ will be made manifest in their lives.
I cannot begin to describe his art. It is deep: it requires patience on the part of the viewer. He works with delicate materials while attempting to plumb the depths of faith, emotion, culture and ultimately, God.

Do yourself a favor, and view his Artsy page. And remember to pray for our artists, who bring beauty to a world sorely in need.

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