“We love those who know the worst of us and don’t turn their face away.” — Walker Percy
A Note From International Arts Movement
The month of February always feels incredibly long. The sparkle of the holidays is over and the zeal of the new year has worn away. In many parts of the country, we are left to slog through the slush and pick up the pieces. The goals we set in January feel slightly less attainable than they did 30 days ago. Even though it’s the shortest month of the year, February drags on, one day after another filled with the monotony of everyday living. This February, in particular, feels even longer… the virus continuing to loom over all of us, creating a shadow even when the sun does peek through the clouds.
I know many people who have received the vaccine recently, and it’s made me pause and think about how marvelous modern medicine is. Regardless of your feelings about vaccines, I hope we can all take a moment and appreciate the incredible minds and hearts of scientists, researchers, and advocates around the globe who have worked to create a solution to a massive problem in record time. For me, as someone who spends most of my day writing rather than solving complex equations or handling petri dishes, I am even more in awe of the people who were able to piece together the myriad facts and tests that came together in such a precise way so as to create a vaccine.
The vaccine has me thinking about hope. I wonder about it as I am on my daily walk, smiling to the dogs on the corner and waving to the little girl who has finally mastered her two-wheeled bicycle. Have we lost the ability to hope at this particular moment in the world? COVID has taken an immeasurable toll, not just on our bodies, but on our minds. We have been conditioned to expect the worse, and prepare for it, too. We hoarded canned beans and toilet paper, we have stocked up on surgical masks, we have kept our distance. We have bided our time, laid low, and waited… for what, though? When this ordeal began a year or so ago, no one would have ever expected it to last this long. Somewhere along the way, I felt the normal hope and expectation drain away, leaving in its place anger and boredom.
Now, as we eagerly look again toward spring (a second spring with COVID), I am working to regain that hope. To look for signs of it in daily life. Hope doesn’t have to be monumental. It can be small. A spark. A crumb. A scrap. After all, a scrap of hope is better than no hope at all.
A Note From Makoto Fujimura, Founder of IAM Culture Care
As I watch the snow (and ice) fall, again, in February day in Princeton, I am doing much reflecting on the past years. Over seven years ago, I was invited to work with President Mark Labberton of Fuller Seminary to help grow the vision of Brehm Center. My term came to an end last Jan but I kept the studio in Pasadena as I saw the community of the Fellows program to be a key aspect of my art making. Due to the Pandemic, as well as my new life with Haejin, of course, this plan has to be modified so we are closing the Pasadena studio this month. As I look back, my years in Pasadena has been the most challenging, and most fruitful time as I found my “beloved community” in the Fellows, painted four monumental 33’ long triptychs, and completed my new book! The Kintsugi Academy was launched there as well.
The Fellows have continued their generative work of our Culture Care Podcast, and I will remain as an executive producer, passing on the legacy to Brianna Kinsman, Julia Hendrickson and Jeremy Hunt. The podcast will have more of a Movement voice feel, capturing voices from different aspects of our Culture Care journey. So we want to hear from you! Share with us through this newsletter connection any stories of culture care in your midst, how you might have had “Kintsugi experiences” in your lives, as I’ve had in mine. My new book Art+Faith: A Theology of Making (Yale Press) has become a quite a catalyst for this movement, and I want to welcome new subscribers due to the exposure that my book has gotten.
The Fellows program will continue at Bucknell University, this time focusing on undergraduates majoring in diverse curriculum and backgrounds. After notifying the three Deans overseeing the three schools at Bucknell — the School of Arts and Sciences, the new School of Management, and the School of Engineering — desiring to choose three students, I received 22 applications. We will begin by running Kintsugi conversations/workshops with 15 selected candidates, and I will select 5 – 7 Fellows for a program to launch in the fall of this year. They will become the ambassador of Culture Care spanning various backgrounds, expertise and different expressions of faith at Bucknell and beyond. The Pasadena based Fujimura Fellows’s theological work will be critical in this expansion as the integration of all of our knowledge basis extends into a “secular” university.
Culture Care journey into the New needs to expand traditional categories and create a pluralistic estuary. While honoring the uniqueness of disciplines and cultures, we want also to create interdependent overlaps that rejuvenate the rivers of culture. All of our stories need to pay attention to the “minute particulars” (William Blake) of our unique journeys while connected with the expansive complexities of our time, rather than forcing to reduce them to homogenous sound bites which can lead to Culture Wars rhetoric.
My bride Haejin and I have dreams to expand Fuji Farm in Princeton, and to journey together to “mend to make New” through our works of Justice and Beauty. Culture Care journey continues to expand generatively and vigorously despite the shutdown and I am grateful for all involved.
Blessing from Princeton,
- “Mako Fujimura is a celebrated 21st century visual artist working in a beautiful place somewhere between abstract expressionist tradition, and the fine art crafting tradition of his own native Japan.” The Forefront Festival team reviews Mako’s latest book here.
- To make is divine.
- The final episode of the first season of the Culture Care podcast is live.
- How to open our minds, homes, and hearts to our neighbors.
- Lent offers us a chance for unexpected hope this year.
- A curated collection of essays, poetry, short stories, and visual art for the liturgical seasons of Lent and Easter from our friends at Image Journal.
Header Image: KERRY JAMES MARSHALL, “Memento #5,” 2003 (acrylic and glitter on unstretched canvas banner, 107 5⁄8 × 157 1⁄2 inches / 274.3 × 396.2 cm).