“And where is Jesus, this strange Easter day? Not lost in our locked churches, anymore Than he was sealed in that dark sepulchre. The locks are loosed; the stone is rolled away, And he is up and risen, long before, Alive, at large, and making his strong way Into the world he gave his life to save, No need to seek him in his empty grave. ” Malcolm Guite, “Easter 2020″
A Note From International Arts Movement
We’re having a bit of a different spring in Washington, D.C. this year — some warm days interspersed with colder, windy days. Thankfully, the sun has been out quite a bit, making the colder days slightly more bearable. I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that April is nearly over… for months I yearned for spring, for longer days, for evening walks, for weather balmy enough to enjoy my porch. Now that it’s here, I find it slipping through my fingers. Elusive, hard to pin down. For the first time in two years, I have an event or a meeting nearly every day in the evening during the work. My body and mind and aren’t quite adjusted to the pre-pandemic breakneck speed that we seem to be returning to, and it’s been a good reminder to slow down and contemplate what it actually looks like to rest.
For me, that means soaking in the moment of time that we find ourselves in. Whether it’s a warm spring day or a windy, overcast one that feels more like winter, I’m trying to appreciate the biblical commandment to practice resting well. That usually means sitting in silence, listening to the wind whistle, the birds chirp, and the shadows dancing on the walls. We have lost the art of rest because we live in a world that is bombarded by noise, both virtual and literal.
So as I contemplate the elusiveness of spring, I also find myself contemplating how to rest well in the season of life I’m in. Running during the week, resting during the weekend. Slowing down and drinking in the goodness and beauty all around me. Returning to the most basic form of culture care which is, at its root, a deep sense of appreciation for the world around us and the ways that it inspires us in our creative journeys, whatever those may be.
A Note From Makoto Fujimura, Founder of IAM Culture Care
Virginia Bluebells are out in their pale blues — light azurite, to me, a mineral I use in my studio. I recall a time when I was in a very dark place, in my dark winter, the Bluebells that came out in Princeton gave my heart a slight lift. How about you on this day?
What are the Virginia Bluebells of our lives, of your life? What are the beauties that come out of the frozen wintered earth, or the quarantined grounds of the Pandemic?
Thus began my keynote speech at “HopeWords” Conference in Bluefield West Virginia. Founded by pastor Travis Lowe, this writers gathering was one of the conferences I had committed to do before the pandemic hit, and I felt a certain “pull” to accept the invitation. I thought there was something unusual happening here, a pastor organizing a writers conference in a struggling little town surrounded by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Poet Malcolm Guite, who came from the UK, also told me of the same “pull”. When we gather not to maximize convenience and efficiency, but instead to honor local communities, authentic acts of hospitality can be the invitation that poets and artists are longing for. He reminded me that he had contacted me over five years ago, responding to my book Silence and Beauty (IVPress), and I had then invited him to come out to a gathering in Pasadena for the screening of the film “Silence” with Martin Scorsese present.
Travis could not see himself traveling to LA, so he instead thought “what can I do to my community here?” He opted to create HopeWords Conference. Bluefield West Virginia, a coal town community devastated by the economy and opioid crisis, used to called “Little New York” in the Harlem Renaissance of the 30’s. Many jazz and big band greats played at Grenada theater where the conference was held. Langston Hughes read, and Marion Anderson sang. Theater had just been renovated by a generous patron to her original state, and we were one of the first to inhabit this beautiful space.
It was stunning to be standing on this splendor of a stage, giving this keynote. Especially going through the Pandemic, I savored every word, both in presenting and in my hearing. Resonant music honored the stage and moving and helpful presentations were given by other writers. While I have been limiting my travel and lecture to a minimum even before the Pandemic, wanting to maximize my studio time, a community like this makes it worthwhile. I asked Travis “how long do I have to speak?”, assuming to be told “20 minutes” as it is typical in conferences now influenced by TED talks, and he gestured with his large hands as if to embrace me, and said “you are the keynote — you can have as long as you want!”
I felt I could take time to pause, more than usual in my delivery, and realized I was much more comfortable when I practiced “slow art” even on the stage.
Since my bride, Haejin, and I have committed to travel together when one of us presents, we drove down (8 and a half hours, but a beautiful drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains) to stay at a comfortable Inn full of beautiful art. Travis’s flexibility allowed both of us to co-present the next day. We spoke on beauty and justice themes, sharing about our trip to India that we have just returned from.
When IAM board decided to intentionally wind down hosting our own conferences in New York City in the around 2010, we made that decision not to compete with other expanding arts and faith organizations, and allow smaller local organizations to fill in the gaps. We made a decision not to be a “franchise”, but encourage local organizations to establish their own boards, raise local funding and, more importantly, serve their local communities. We made the right decision, I thought, for Bluefield, West Virginia, seeing brimming conversations and rejuvenated old theater full of writers, musicians and pastors.
“Art+Faith: A Theology of Making” (Yale Press)“Makoto Fujimura’s art and writings have been a true inspiration to me. In this luminous book, he addresses the question of art and faith and their reconciliation with a quiet and moving eloquence.” — Martin Scorsese
A Free Reader’s Guide to “Art+Faith: A Theology of Making” for Culture Care Community Formation now available!
Guest Writer: Ally Lima
Ally Lima is a junior at Bucknell University, where she is studying English. She is also a Fujimura Fellow (in training!). Her reflections on justice, art, and culture will appear in the newsletter on a regular basis.
It is a rare occasion that you pass through the streets of a city in the United States without being surpassed by swarms of people walking at lightning speed with headphones in their ears and minds directed always on the next thing. What is beautiful about living within a different culture (with little exposure to other Americans) is that it is a chance for this pace of life to slow down: to walk without headphones in and to look around rather than straight down. While my cliche American “go-go-go” mentality was not immediately abandoned when I left the country and I still find myself questioning at times why the pedestrian in front of me is walking at what
appears to me to be a sloth-like pace, I also find myself recognizing these tendencies and slowing down my own steps.
As the weather gets warmer here in Italy, I am eager to spend as much of my free time as possible outdoors, oftentimes meaning a trip to the beautiful Giardini Margherita near to me in Bologna. This park, for me, has exemplified the meaning of the simple Italian life. While walking through this grand field of grass, what you witness is people simply being. Whether this means an older couple sitting on a bench enthralled in conversation, a group of teens kicking around a soccer ball, dogs running free or someone enjoying a book, the Italian pace of life becomes more evident than ever. Rather than being distracted by a mind clouded by stress of impending due dates or everyday tasks, what you hear is the sound of this simple life: laughter, music, birds, and the footsteps of joggers passing by. With the flowers beginning to bloom, there is the fresh aroma of the transitioning season, bringing with it the joy of more opportunity to enjoy this Italian nature. On a sunny day it is rare to find even one patch of grass not occupied by
a group of students or kids just enjoying the weather and each other’s company. These groups, unrelated to one another, are connected solely by their shared propensity to enjoy the world around them for a few hours. Perhaps these days in the park will be some of what I treasure most
about my time in Italy, as I will continue to cherish them as a token of this simple life.
- NYU sociologist Jonathan Haidt writes about why the last ten years have been “uniquely stupid.”
- Mako Fujimura’s “theology of hope.”
- Save the date and register online for the Spring 2022 Embers International Gala.
- How the power of the cross contradicts our culture wars.
- “Holy Saturday,” a film by Windrider Productions in collaboration with IAM Culture Care.
- In a recent podcast, Mako discusses the ancient Japanese craft of Kintsugi as a metaphor to reflect on our times.