Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

Makoto Fujimora is WORLD Magazine's Daniel of the Year!

65 posts in this topic

Posted · Report post

Every year, WORLD Magazine - kind of a conservative Christian version of Time, or Newsweek - chooses it's "Daniel of the Year." The person chosen is honored for their work to be faithful witnesses to God in the public square, for their commitment and excellence in doing praiseworthy work that honors God's revelation. Previous Daniels have been John Ashcroft, Franklin Graham, Philip Johnson, Kenneth Starr, Generation WWJD, Michael Yerko, and Baroness Caroline Cox. But this year's Daniel is surprising and different.

This year's Daniel of the Year is visual artist Makoto Fujimora. Click Here for the story. I am only mildly familiar with Fujimora's work - does anyone here know it well? But I am thrilled that their pick is a visual artist - and one whose work is abstract, to boot! With a sidebar on why abstract art is legitimately Christian! In a conservative Christian publication!

!

Fujimora is widely respected in both Christian and non-Christian circles, and his art displays both technical excellence and Godly passion. I've seen photographs of some of his pieces in other publications, but WORLD indicates that his work doesn't photograph well, which I can attest to. Now I'm burning to see his pieces in person!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

FWIW, Fujimora also has a commentary piece in that issue of WORLD, entitled "Walking Backwards", in which he compares the Christian task to that of a college admissions tour guide (!). It's an amusing and insightful little piece.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I am familiar with some of Makoto's work. I do some work for Author/Singer Michael Card, and Makoto wrote the forward for Mike’s book on creativity, “Scribbling in the Sand”, and also wrote an essay for the chapter “Letters to Christian Artists”. He is also a frequent guest on the radio program “In the Studio with Michael Card”.

I am glad more people will hear about him through this, especially people who probably wouldn't usually give abstract art a second glance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Fujimura is a thought provoking guy. I wrote my monthly column on him in a weak homage to the directions he has pushed both Christian and secular artists in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

If ever I've had a reason to travel to New York, I guess it is now more than ever.

Wow. Beautiful.

A heartfelt "Thanks," for posting this Crims. I've not heard of this fellow before and I think I just became a huge fan. I wonder when I will ever see some of these live.

-s.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

Can't resist, had to put a couple of these in.

IPB Image

IPB Image

IPB Image

IPB Image

Edited by stef

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

The tough thing is, as I understand it, those works are MASSIVE. They look decorative on my screen, but I'll bet in person, they are awe-inspiring.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I am in the midst of doing a short doc on Mako.

I spent a couple of days with him and got to watch him paint -pretty cool stuff. The guy has his head screwed on straight and his family is pretty cool as well.

Link to the video in draft stage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I am in the midst of doing a short doc on Mako.

I spent a couple of days with him and got to watch him paint -pretty cool stuff. The guy has his head screwed on straight and his family is pretty cool as well.

Link to the video in draft stage.

Truly, truly fascinated. You have caused me to sin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

One little funny thing about our time with Mako.

We were meeting with another Christian artist who was talking about Mako's work (and some other things.) In that conversation he referred to Mako's work as "somewhat decorative." I thought that mildly humorous and wondered if that was like an artist throwdown. I figured there was probably no worse comment to levy against an artist than to essentially say their art is nice looking but ultimately meaningless. (In a recent New Yorker article on Jackson Pollack's later art, the writer called it decorative in a clearly derogatory manner - my suspicions were confirmed.) I have since thought that exchange was probably typical of the pettiness that artists can be known for. It wasn't malicious, but it was clearly intended as a jab.

The great thing about Mako was that he exhibited none of this. In fact, one of the greatest compliments that I heard time and time again about Mako was that he brought artists together, that he is a peacemaker not just in the content and delivery of his art, but in the relationships he has developed in the NYC art scene.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

One little funny thing about our time with Mako.

We were meeting with another Christian artist who was talking about Mako's work (and some other things.) In that conversation he referred to Mako's work as "somewhat decorative." I thought that mildly humorous and wondered if that was like an artist throwdown. I figured there was probably no worse comment to levy against an artist than to essentially say their art is nice looking but ultimately meaningless. (In a recent New Yorker article on Jackson Pollack's later art, the writer called it decorative in a clearly derogatory manner - my suspicions were confirmed.) I have since thought that exchange was probably typical of the pettiness that artists can be known for. It wasn't malicious, but it was clearly intended as a jab.

The great thing about Mako was that he exhibited none of this. In fact, one of the greatest compliments that I heard time and time again about Mako was that he brought artists together, that he is a peacemaker not just in the content and delivery of his art, but in the relationships he has developed in the NYC art scene.

I have very little to go on in comparison to you, but I get the same sense of his character and demeanor as you are saying.

All artists should expect criticism (and desire constructive criticism, IMO) although that sounds like a very cheap jab — and from a fellow xian! What this man seems to have done is take a pot-shot (out of jealousy? Just a thought as I type . . . ) equivelant to name-calling. It wouldn't even warrant "criticism" in my book, and certainly doesn't count as constructive.

Artists, we are a strange breed.

Adding: Where can I get a copy of the finished video?

Edited by Chashab

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Edit: I also think Westerners are still hung up about the fact that much Japanese art looks "flat." It's so easy to criticize things we (I) don't understand.

The interesting thing is that Mako's work is anything but flat. There are layers of texture on it and because he uses actual minerals as pigments, there is this interaction with light that really makes them "pop." As one professor told us, there is a light that eminates from his paintings.

Hearing him talk about his paintings confirmed to me that they are not just decorative. Sure they might look good in the lobby of a venture capitalist, but they do communicate so much more than, "mmmm, pretty colors." There is a rich story behind each one, and beyond that, the very way he executes his art is meaningful. Good stuff in my book.

Adding: Where can I get a copy of the finished video?

It will be part of a series of videos, a type of curriculum referenced in this thread.

I am assuming you can get it through this website, once production and packaging is finished in Oct.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I am assuming you can get it through this website, once production and packaging is finished in Oct.

No kidding! I was just on the Christian Vision site last night, reading the June entry. Very intriguing stuff. Have followed it from the first.

The interesting thing is that Mako's work is anything but flat. There are layers of texture on it and because he uses actual minerals as pigments, there is this interaction with light that really makes them "pop." As one professor told us, there is a light that eminates from his paintings.

I so want to see one of his works in person

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

We were meeting with another Christian artist who was talking about Mako's work (and some other things.) In that conversation he referred to Mako's work as "somewhat decorative."

I don't think I would have had the patience to let this slide, the fact that any "Christian" artist would say this about Mako stultifies me and causes me to question the aesthetic intelligence of whatever artist you were talking to. That sounds harsh, but I don't think there is any other way to say it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I don't think I would have had the patience to let this slide, the fact that any "Christian" artist would say this about Mako stultifies me and causes me to question the aesthetic intelligence of whatever artist you were talking to. That sounds harsh, but I don't think there is any other way to say it.

This is where being a people pleaser isn't helpful. 5 things went through my head in what to say to him, but somewhere I heard the voice of my mother talking about winning more bees with honey. I am still trying to figure out why I would want to win bees in the first place, but at least the guy helped us get the footage we needed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

The first thing art schoolies learn is how to laugh at material artists and some Christian artists seem to think that "fitting in" requires adapting to this myopic attitude.

I look forward to seeing the finished product soon and advertising it on the highways and byways.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

The first thing art schoolies learn is how to laugh at material artists

OK, I went to art school and I'm not following this statement:

What is, therefore, your definition of "art schoolie?"

And what do you mean by material artists?

Signed,

Ignorant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

If I'm not mistaken (and if so, I apologize, MLeary) he's referring to the fact that Art School tends to erect a hierarchy between art and craft, and to elevate the one over the other. To say that art is "decorative" is an insult, saying that "decorative" is not a noble goal, or at least not as noble a goal as, say "challenging" or "confronting." That art created for the sake of beauty is not as ARTISTIC as art created for the sake of boundary-smashing.

I don't see Mako falling into that dichotomous trap, but I think MLeary is bemoaning that the critic quoted above has.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

If I'm not mistaken (and if so, I apologize, MLeary) he's referring to the fact that Art School tends to erect a hierarchy between art and craft, and to elevate the one over the other. To say that art is "decorative" is an insult, saying that "decorative" is not a noble goal, or at least not as noble a goal as, say "challenging" or "confronting." That art created for the sake of beauty is not as ARTISTIC as art created for the sake of boundary-smashing.

I don't see Mako falling into that dichotomous trap, but I think MLeary is bemoaning that the critic quoted above has.

ah-HA! Arts vs Crafts I'm fully aware of (presuming, again, this was MLeary's intent) and involved in. I was a ceramics student

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

OK, I went to art school and I'm not following this statement:

"Art Schoolie" is a bit pejorative, probably as loaded as "decorative arts." I suppose it applies to those myriads of students that end up producing senior shows that reveal they spent more time on everything but actual studio time...but this is where I start to sound like an angry old man. I will never use the term again in mixed company.

If I'm not mistaken (and if so, I apologize, MLeary) he's referring to the fact that Art School tends to erect a hierarchy between art and craft, and to elevate the one over the other. To say that art is "decorative" is an insult, saying that "decorative" is not a noble goal, or at least not as noble a goal as, say "challenging" or "confronting." That art created for the sake of beauty is not as ARTISTIC as art created for the sake of boundary-smashing.

I don't see Mako falling into that dichotomous trap, but I think MLeary is bemoaning that the critic quoted above has.

That certainly is the gist! I don't think all art schools do that (especially as it is more about "teachers" than "schools"), and these days you can actually find a lot of programs that focus more on material, industrial, and "craft" or "trade" arts. For some reason though, such work still doesn't get as much gallery time as the standard conceptual, installation, and whatnot arts. I guess that is why I gravitate towards guys like Mako so much. I did argue somewhere once that Christians should be keenly interested in more craft and material oriented arts for acutely theological reasons.

it gets very complicated when you start bringing manuscript illumination into the discussion, though - high art? I'd say yes, but some people still say "no." Not sure why, either!

Not sure why here, either! I am one of those people that still thinks of typography as an art.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

It may be that part of the reticence to include printmaking and typography in the same sentence as most conceptual/installation/fine arts has to do with the somewhat lame execution of these crafts in mail and stamp art.

I have only seen a few exhibitions of Mail Art in the past decade, none of which have been very thrilling. There are some great ideas out there, but none that would seem to elevate printmaking at least as an art-form in the same way that say Bontecou made vacuum-formed plastic an art form. Printmaking and typography still seem to be more "graphic design" than anything even though they are the most visible and public art forms in history.

This is way, way off topic however. Apologies.

Bontecou + vacuum formed plastic =

IPB Image

Edited by MLeary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I have only seen a few exhibitions of Mail Art in the past decade, none of which have been very thrilling. There are some great ideas out there, but none that would seem to elevate printmaking at least as an art-form in the same way that say Bontecou made vacuum-formed plastic an art form. Printmaking and typography still seem to be more "graphic design" than anything even though they are the most visible and public art forms in history.

Is it not the commercial nature of most graphic and type work that keeps people from accepting it as a fine art? (I know this is still off-topic ::pinch:: ) Printmaking in its hay-day was in essence what graphic design does today

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

This discussion is really interesting (and applicable) for me - perhaps it deserves it's own thread, if it doesn't already have it.

For 5 years I have been working in media. Other than some instillations, almost all that work has been video. I wonder if there is a similar parallel between water color and video. Both are fairly accessible to "consumers", both are derided by purists, both are relatively affordable (which may be why said purists deride them) and to be honest, both are incredibly difficult mediums to master. Sure anyone can take a video camera, shoot some cool things and edit them well, but to truly create something beautiful in video is much more difficult than in film (in my subjective experience.)

Even though I use artistic sensibilities when I edit, I have never called myself an artist. It's not quite decorative art because there is always a message to communicate, whether it is some truth about Christians and culture or why you should attend a given conference. But it's not just simple communication - I think there is something different between what I do and what a preacher or teacher does. Perhaps it's the connection between words, images and time.

I guess my belabored point is that this discussion of what is true art has always felt frustrating to me and perhaps misdirected. I understand the need for it, and will willingly listen to persepctives because any explacation I can muster feels woefully inadequate. But it usually feels like it is initiated by people who want to feel like they are important in life (like our artist friend mentioned earlier in the thread.) The discussion is about the artist. Does the audience matter? I wouldn't think that the audience determines whether something is truly art. If that is the case a millionaire buying a Rothko because it's pretty would then make Rothko decorative. But it seems that how the art is received may be a part of the equation.

One other thing,

Can any change the title of this thread - the spelling of Mako's last name is wrong. It should be Fujimura

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

This discussion is really interesting (and applicable) for me - perhaps it deserves it's own thread, if it doesn't already have it.

For 5 years I have been working in media. Other than some instillations, almost all that work has been video. I wonder if there is a similar parallel between water color and video. Both are fairly accessible to "consumers", both are derided by purists, both are relatively affordable (which may be why said purists deride them) and to be honest, both are incredibly difficult mediums to master. Sure anyone can take a video camera, shoot some cool things and edit them well, but to truly create something beautiful in video is much more difficult than in film (in my subjective experience.)

Even though I use artistic sensibilities when I edit, I have never called myself an artist. It's not quite decorative art because there is always a message to communicate, whether it is some truth about Christians and culture or why you should attend a given conference. But it's not just simple communication - I think there is something different between what I do and what a preacher or teacher does. Perhaps it's the connection between words, images and time.

5 years or so ago I saw a video in the St Louis Museum of Art (I think that's what it's called) which was part of an exhibit of Ray and Charles Eames furniture. It was in a dark room, projected onto the floor, a video of soapy water full of bubbles running over asphalt.

It was captivating, to be quite honest.

Personally, I was not aware of how derided watercolor is in the art world. For me, it's always been just another form of painting, and I personally love much of the pen and ink brushwork (which, in my mind, is the same as watercolor) of Japan and China. I bought a 9'6" scroll of The Story of the Stone for my wife for her birthday (el cheapo! on Ebay) and framed it for our living room :D It is done in this style. And while they were mass produced (I actually ended up with two, the first one they sent was only black ink, and the pictures on Ebay shewed color . . . ), they are done by hand.

I guess my belabored point is that this discussion of what is true art has always felt frustrating to me and perhaps misdirected. I understand the need for it, and will willingly listen to persepctives because any explacation I can muster feels woefully inadequate. But it usually feels like it is initiated by people who want to feel like they are important in life (like our artist friend mentioned earlier in the thread.) The discussion is about the artist. Does the audience matter? I wouldn't think that the audience determines whether something is truly art. If that is the case a millionaire buying a Rothko because it's pretty would then make Rothko decorative. But it seems that how the art is received may be a part of the equation.

That said, I still don't know if I'd call them art . . . but that's why I'm working on the definition as a living document, as I called it. Culture changes, language changes . . . I don't remember if there's a thread about defining the term or not here yet; I don't think so. And I'd be fine with splitting some of this recent discussion into something like that . . . It's warranted, but I often have the same reservations as you. It's just not an easy elephant to tackle.

But sometimes the hard things are the ones most worth doing.

One other thing,

Can any change the title of this thread - the spelling of Mako's last name is wrong. It should be Fujimura

I was just thinking this last night . . . I second this motion!

In fact, re-reading your post again, I would ask *please* for a moderator to create a new thread from these last posts . . .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

What an interesting conversation to stumble across! I just met Mr. Fujimura this past week. I am in New York with the dance company I work for performing a four week engagement at the Joyce. I decided I wanted to hook up with some other Christians and artists and someone recommended checking out the IAM-NY site to see if they have anything going on. I went to their Wednesday Tribakery Fellowship this past week and had a blast. The discussion was on kitsch and Christianity. I've got two more weeks to go and I fully intend on taking advantage of being in the area.

Joe Futral

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0