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


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#1 CrimsonLine

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 09:12 AM

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!

#2 CrimsonLine

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 01:21 PM

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.

#3 Stephen Lamb

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Posted 17 December 2005 - 01:28 PM

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.

#4 M. Leary

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 07:56 AM

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.

#5 Persona

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 01:43 PM

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.

#6 Persona

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 05:03 PM

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

IPB Image

IPB Image

IPB Image

IPB Image

Edited by stef, 10 January 2006 - 05:06 PM.


#7 CrimsonLine

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 06:17 PM

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.

#8 NClarke

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 02:38 PM

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.



#9 Chashab

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 02:58 PM

QUOTE(NClarke @ Jul 17 2006, 02:38 PM) View 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 caused me to be jealous of your opportunity to meet and talk with him.

Wow . . .

#10 NClarke

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 03:08 PM

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.

#11 Chashab

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 03:44 PM

QUOTE(NClarke @ Jul 17 2006, 03:08 PM) View 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, 17 July 2006 - 04:58 PM.


#12 NClarke

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 06:41 PM

QUOTE
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.
QUOTE

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.

#13 Chashab

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 07:29 PM

QUOTE(NClarke @ Jul 17 2006, 06:41 PM) View 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.

QUOTE
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 I've actually given books of his works to a few people as gifts, but haven't kept any for myself, knowing in part they can't do the technique justice. a


#14 M. Leary

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 10:55 AM

QUOTE(NClarke @ Jul 17 2006, 04:08 PM) View 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.

#15 NClarke

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 12:08 PM

QUOTE
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.

#16 M. Leary

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 01:21 PM

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.

#17 Chashab

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 01:44 PM

QUOTE(MLeary @ Jul 18 2006, 01:21 PM) View 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


#18 CrimsonLine

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 03:19 PM

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.

#19 Chashab

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 04:02 PM

QUOTE(CrimsonLine @ Jul 18 2006, 03:19 PM) View 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 which Nardis has already pointed out is a point of contention in the art vs. craft debate.

Interesting thing is, as many people in my classes used clay for sculpture as they did for pottery.

I'm (slowly) trying to formulate a definition of art, for myself and for whoever cares, which certainly takes this into consideration. I'm going about it in more of a technical (if that's the correct term) way, not trying to write a book or dissertation, but a living document of sorts.

And I'm personally convinced that good art cannot be absent of good craft . . .


#20 M. Leary

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 04:16 PM

QUOTE(Chashab @ Jul 18 2006, 02:44 PM) View 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.

QUOTE(CrimsonLine @ Jul 18 2006, 04:19 PM) View 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.


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.

QUOTE(nardis @ Jul 18 2006, 04:31 PM) View Post

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.