Thoughts from Makoto Fujimura
I read this article on By Faith Magazine… This is just part of the article… Good perspective from an artist…
In his book Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art and Culture, renowned artist and PCA elder Makoto Fujimura writes that God has taught him as an artist and a follower of Christ to live and work for the “prosperity of the city” in the ashes of September 11, 2001. Although he lives in New York, he founded the International Arts Movement (IAM), to inspire artists to wrestle with the deep questions of art, faith, and humanity, wherever they are in the world. In light of Japan’s continuing crisis, byFaith talked with Fujimura—a Japanese-American who studied art in Tokyo and exhibits regularly in Asia—about his hopes for the country of his heritage and the role of art in its future rebuilding.
In April, you plan to travel to Japan on a previously scheduled trip. How will you spend your time there, in light of this tragic turn of events for Japan?
Fujimura: The first thing I want to do is speak to artists and get a feel for artists there. It really comes down to knowing what the locals are thinking rather than dictating what we think should happen. Following a tragedy, it’s often after the media leave and you’re back all alone that you realize, “Now what?” So, I am committed to starting a long-term conversation, delving into the lives of people. We want to support their efforts to rebuild the area and re-imagine what Japan should look like. That means taking an interest in their history, who they are, their aesthetics.
What hopes do you have for the Japanese people to experience Christ in the midst of their sorrow and tragedy?
As Christians, we often focus on delivering information about the gospel, but that could be the most ineffective way right now. Rather, what is needed is to spend time with the Japanese, weeping together, almost “wasting” time being there with people, going through the day-to-day. Clearly, delivering food and water is essential as well. Along the way, we must appreciate the depth of what they are going through.
If we are able to weep with people, then they will ask: “Why do you have this hope?”
Once we humanize a way of talking about this and listen to people and have a truthful conversation about suffering and what was lost, I think we will begin to see openings to further conversation. As I exhibit in Japan, people come to me. They see a kind of beauty that honors Japanese tradition and see me trying to do something authentic. I don’t initiate a conversation, unless they want to talk about it. But people come to me with questions.
If we are able to weep with people, then they will ask: “Why do you have this hope?” They will ask: “When I feel that there is something wrong, why is that?” These are the questions that trigger deeper conversations. These questions are going to start showing up in their music, their films, their art. If we are savvy about this, we can begin to journey with these people and be with them as they encounter the big questions that they can’t answer. God will show up. He will create a new language for them to speak. The gospel gives a new language to humanize what has happened.
The way that Christians can uniquely give is that we do have hope. We do not fear death, so we can go to places that might be contaminated. In fact, we should be the first to be there. Not to solve the problem, but because God sent His Son to be contaminated completely for us.