One of the most refreshing and persistent qualities of Fujimura's thought is his compassionate imagination, which lends his outlook a wonderfully generous, humane quality. In W. H. Auden's phrase, he tends to "look at this world with a happy eye but from a sober perspective" (no arty pun on "perspective" intended).
Here is someone who finds great value in artists like Picasso and de Kooning, and does not, like oh so many Christians, evaluate their work by pinning it in a handy specimen box of ideologies and evaluating it in those terms, but instead advocates a reflective approach
counseling against knee-jerk condemnation:
In the case of DeKooning and Picasso, the works are valuable precisely because they depict murder. Rather than condemning their art for its depravity, we need to realize that such paintings depict our inner hearts. Artists candidly depicted the condition of modernity that kills relationships and family ties.
Here is someone, a Christian, who cherishes and embraces
abstract expressionism instead of filing it away under Spiritually Irrelevant, Possibly Sinister:
In the works of many abstract expressionists I see not only abstract paintings but a yearning and groping for the heavenly language. They were convinced that earth and history did not contain the language to capture the fear and power of the age.
Here is someone who, clearly, has great respect
for the technical skill of contemporary artists commonly ignored or derided by Christians:
I’ve heard many people say of contemporary art: “my kids can do that.” I encourage them, then to try it themselves, don’t let kids have all the fun! Try to make drip paintings like Jackson Pollock. Or paint an object with encaustic, layering color upon color, like Johns. Try silk screening images like Warhol. You soon find out that in the ordinary gestures and materials, there are deceptively complicated and sublime twists. Our drips become unnatural and confined, where as Pollock’s drips dance, and form delectable edges that seem to undulate in front of our eyes. Our edges of encaustic strokes become unshapely, because If you try working with wax (as I have tried to in college,) you find out soon enough that it is unforgiving, making it very difficult to create a clean, sharp definition. The melting wax constantly oozes, and moves about, and the colors muddle. If you are finally able to paint a stripe with bright colors, the stripes would not resonate, in ways that Johns’ Flags do.
Here is someone who, instead of devaluing the world, indeed acknowledges
that the world is infused with gratuitous beauty which atheists and theists alike can equally love and appreciate:
I am well acquainted with the beauty of a trout. [...] I asked myself why was a trout made so beautiful if all it is asked to do is survive in the river? If the function of survival were its only bottom line, then why this wasteful extravagance in the details of intricate design? A gentle reminder of ephemeral nature of our lives does point to the beauty of the moment. And this does not require faith in the Creator. An atheist and a theist can share a common fly stream. Standing side by side, we can both be “educated” by the details of extravagance.
Here is someone who embraces
the centrality of art in the world:
A civilization that does not value its artistic expressions is a civilization that does not value itself. These tangible artistic expressions help us to understand ourselves. The arts teach us to respect both the diversity of our communities and the strength of our traditions. I encourage people not to segment art into an “extra” sphere of life or to see art as mere decorations. Why? Because art is everywhere and has already taken root in our lives.
Here is someone who clearly believes cultivating the imagination redounds
to the whole
neighborhood's benefit and not just to Christians:
If we do not teach our children, and ourselves, that what we imagine and how we design the world can make a difference, the culture of cynicism will do that for us. If we do not infuse creativity, if we do not take the initiative to help our children imagine better neighborhoods and cities, despair will ruin their imaginative capacities and turn them into destructive forces. These are the lessons of Columbine and 9/11.
Here is someone saying that nonbelievers and believers alike share, by grace, a desire not just to survive but to live creatively
All of us are created to be creative in some way. We may not call ourselves artists or we may not be a professional artist; but creativity is an essence of being human. When you think about it, things that last in our memories are times when we were part of creating something. And, whether it be procreating, in terms of our families, or generating a business or creating an opportunity of mercy, or creating opportunities for people to hear the gospel—all of these are creative acts. And God calls us to that.
That is especially true of nonbelievers, because Christians know by common grace that God poured his gifts into all of the earth. There's a difference between common grace and special grace of salvation knowledge; but common grace is just given generally to all of nature and all of humanity. So, there's an overriding principle of generative creativity that we all long to be part of.
I think artists are catalysts. If you look at a Van Gogh painting, you see a vision that is sharp and refined and out-of-this-world, in a sense. You'll never see a cypress tree or a starry sky in the same way again. So, it's that kind of vision sharing. It's a gift that's being shared with all of humanity. And you can use that as a catalyst to be creative yourself.
Here is someone committed
to building communicative bridges:
As I live and breathe the culture of New York, as I am called to live to "seek the shalom and prosperity of the city," I must work incarnationally, and get my hands dirty. I want my hands and intuitions to seek the shalom of the splintered and degraded aesthetic language of the day, to play a role, hopefully, to redeem the language of art, so that we can all, Christians and non-Christians alike, use the language to communicate.
In short, here is someone I would be pleased to know, a friend to charity, excellence, and, yes, grace.
Edited by du Garbandier, 29 December 2009 - 02:17 AM.