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January 2022 Culture Care Newsletter

  • Posted: January 23, 2022

We must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it.” — Wendell Berry

A Note From International Arts Movement

Right now, life is full of a consistent pursuit of light. I wake up in the morning and immediately open the blinds in my room, letting the sunlight cascade across the white sheets. I drink my morning coffee in front of a window in my living room, enjoying the way that the light plays on the carpet. As the day goes on, I try to position myself so that I am always directly in front of the light, wherever it may be. In my office, the sun beams directly on my face for most of the day, creating an unfortunate shadow during zoom meetings, but a wonderful atmosphere for my heart. 

Winter is a season famously devoid of light, bookmarked by the physical manipulation of clocks. During the first, we turn out clocks back and lose an hour of light (and sleep). The days are shorter and the nights seem longer. At long last, the spring arrives, and we turn our clocks forward again, savoring the extra evening light, the emerging warmth, and an extra shot of serotonin. 

I’m not the first person to chase the light. People have been doing it for centuries. We crave warmth and light and the boost that comes with it. We are not made to live in the darkness. If we’ve learned anything from the last two years, it is that we do not thrive alone. We crave sunlight and community and general together-ness. 

As I rotate my chair each afternoon, I find myself thinking about how much metaphorical light exists in our world, both in people and in nature. Last January, I emerged from an incredibly challenging season full of unrest and sadness, only to arrive at the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Now, a year later, my life looks nothing like I expected it to, but nevertheless… there is light. Abundant light. A fact that I am reminded of each and every day with the rising of the sun. 

A Note From Makoto Fujimura, Founder of IAM Culture Care

A Rocha is a leading international Creation Care organization and her founder Peter Harris and I have been friends for many years. Recently, we spoke on the issues of the Silence of God, suffering, Creation and Culture Care on this important podcast, so take a listen to a deeper dive into my Silence and Beauty”, Culture Care” and Art+Faith: A Theology of Making” topics here.

When we speak of Creation Care, a typical response in conservative circles is to place that in Culture Wars terms, and associate environmental care with progressivism and extreme factions of liberal policies with it. I have told Peter many years ago that in America, we need to grow in our Culture Care communities, in order that Creation Care can be embraced by ALL citizens. Culture Care creates and embodies a reconciled language toward future healing for our culture — and in order for that to become a communal reality toward our flourishing, our Making must lead to caring for the environment as well.

This month, we feature one of my Fellows at Bucknell University, Qian Qian Mei, a Senior Animal Behavior Major with a Minor in Studio Art. Her recent project of highlighting endangered species in Pennsylvania is an outstanding integration of her interest in ecology and creating beautiful prints that both raises awareness and empathy for these signposts of our stricken times. Our own Ally Lima reports, and since Ally will be in Italy for a semester, so, starting next month, we will hear from her in Bologna!

May our Culture Care communities grow, to bring together fragments of tribal interests to replace animosity with respect toward healing. May we bring Beauty and Justice to bear upon the broken realities of our time, and may nature find an inspiring vision for stewardship in the generations to come.

- Mako

P.S. — If you’re interested in reading more, you can check out some related resources here.

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.

Qian Qian Mei, a Senior and Fujimura Fellow at Bucknell has utilized her work in studio art this semester to create a project with commentary on environmental problems, specifically the issue of endangered animals in the state of Pennsylvania (pictured at the beginning of this newsletter). The piece depicts a series of blocks that each represent these different endangered species. To learn more about this project, I asked Qian Qian a few questions about her artistic process and the meaning behind her artwork: 

Ally (A): What was your inspiration behind the project? Where did your interest in the endangered animal species come from? 

Qian Qian (Q): I’ve always been really fascinated with animals ever since I was little, but I think my interest in endangered species started in the sixth grade where my class created a website about orangutans and how the palm oil industry has affected their numbers. I think from there I was more aware of the effects that humans have on the environment and the impact we have as humans whether positive or negative. For this project specifically I wanted to focus on the endangered species of PA because that’s where our school is located and I think that made it easier for people to be able to recognize and relate to. Instead of maybe species that people may have never seen or heard of, these might be more familiar. 

A: How is this specific art form made? What was the artistic process like? 

Q: This piece was made through relief printmaking. This is where gouges are used to carve areas in the matrix, for my project, it was linoleum blocks. Ink is then rolled on the surface and those areas that are carved away will not print. The process was a little difficult for me. Although I knew there were a lot of endangered animal species I definitely was not expecting that many and we had to figure how to fit all of them so that they each had a space. I first started with photoshop and just putting each animal’s placement so I could get a rough estimate of their location and size in PA’s shape. Next I projected them onto a piece of paper and created sketches of each of the animals. Next I transferred those sketches onto the linoleum blocks and began carving. To print this I had to line up all the blocks together. 

A: What did you learn during the process? What were your main takeaways? 

Q: I think one of my main takeaways was not to rush things. I at first felt a lot of pressure to finish it within a specific time span, but I realized that left me unsatisfied with the quality of my work. Additionally to be kind with the work that I do create even if there are mistakes. I felt myself getting frustrated at the beginning of the printing process, but not everything is going to go according to plan and as the printing process went on I was more accepting of the challenges or problems that came up. 

A: What has your experience with art at Bucknell as a whole been like? What does most of your art focus on/depict?

Q: My experience with art at Bucknell has been amazing. The Art Department is great and the classes that I’ve taken so far have been really fun. I’m really glad that we have printmaking classes because I feel like that is not as common as other classes — for example drawing or painting. I’m also really thankful for the new building, Holmes Hall, that has given a greater and larger place for students to be able to exhibit their work. Arts at Bucknell is not just the fine/visual arts — the theater and dance here are just as amazing and I enjoy the production and shows that they put on. In general, the students are so talented and I love the time that they put in to share their talents. 

A: How did you get interested in art? What does artistic expression mean to you? 

Q: I think I was always interested in art and drawing was something that I always enjoyed doing. I was able to explore different directions in art as a child during a program that I continued throughout highschool that provided me the time and materials to explore different art techniques and printmaking was one that stuck out to me and has stayed as one of my favorites. I think artistic expression is really important. I think sometimes words aren’t enough or they’re not sufficient in telling a story or a message and that something visual might be easier in conveying that. Sometimes a picture can depict something just as well or better than words. 

A: Are you planning any more upcoming projects? 

Q: I recently just finished a smaller project that highlights some of the animals that are most affected by wildlife trafficking. It was really cool because I got to try out a new kind of printmaking — lithography. I plan on creating more pieces focused on animals, but currently I don’t have any clear sights about what this next piece may be. 

Qian Qian’s project displays how artistic expression can be used to convey meaningful messages about the world around us. Perhaps, as she stated, art has the ability to resonate more deeply with people than words. In a time when these environmental issues are more prevalent than ever, we can turn to this type of artwork to get a better understanding of the issues that we may otherwise turn a blind eye to. 

Web Links

  • Worry less about WHAT you make — that will mostly look after itself, and is… even none of your business — and devote yourself to… the creative act itself… Apply yourself fully to the task, let go of the outcome, and your true voice will appear.”
  • Registration is open for the Hope Words Conference, where Mako will be a keynote speaker. 
  • Jordan Raynor, host of The Call to Mastery podcast, recently interviewed Mako. 
  • How I freed up time to daydream… 
  • Legendary critic and writer Terry Teachout passed away. We are deeply grateful for his contribution to the world of creativity. 
  • Individual Sundance tickets are available now, and you can watch from ANYWHERE in the U.S.
  • A syllabus for a new world. 

Header art: 30″ x 54″ Linocut; 2021; an edition of 10