June 2021 Culture Care Newsletter

  • Posted: June 23, 2021

We have moved too quickly to reach here; now we need to wait to give our spirits a chance to catch up with us.” John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

A Note From International Arts Movement

I am spending much of this month at my childhood home, taking a break from my normal” routines and soaking in the charm of a small town in the summer. Lots of evening walks, reading books, and going to bed early. Being home always evokes a certain amount of nostalgia for me, particularly now that I don’t live there full-time. Although I’ve built a life that I am deeply happy with in D.C., I often wonder what the trajectory of my life would be had I stayed in Pittsburgh. Who would my friends be? Where would I live? There is a always an if” dangling at the end of my thoughts and my sentence. 

Like many people, I’ve spent the past few months re-evaluating the practices and habits I would like to take beyond the pandemic. Without trivializing the trauma of the past year and a half, it’s important to acknowledge that it also offered many people a re-set. A chance to wipe the slate clean and start over again. Our lives slowed down in ways we could have never imagined. 

For me, it offered an unprecedented chance to spend more time at home than I possibly ever will be able to for the rest of my adult life. You might have had similar moments of realization. I’d like to continue to make spending time at home a priority. 

Perhaps the most important realization of these moments is that although they are small, they make an impact. D. Michael Lindsay, of Gordon College, calls them hinge moments, or moments in time in which we have an opportunity before us to make a change or to respond to a situation.” The pandemic itself was a hinge moment for the majority of the world. But for most of us, the rest of the hinge moments in our life won’t be as momentous, at least by the world’s standards. 

In these next few weeks, as we rush head own into the dog-days of summer, I want to stop and consider those moments which might serve as a marker of the way we want to live our lives moving forward. Culture care, after all, is about stewarding the world around us in a way that invites people in. What better time to invite people into our worlds than at a moment in time when we are celebrating the return of the world at its fullest capacity?

A Note From Makoto Fujimura, Founder of IAM Culture Care

We have exciting news!

I will be exhibiting both for the month of September and December in Highline Nine Gallery in Chelsea. September will be a commemoration exhibit of September 11th, 2001, AND March 11th, 2011. As a Ground Zero” resident, living only three blocks away from the Twin Towers, this 20th year will bring about so much reflection, and exposure of vulnerable hairline fractures” from the traumas. 311 Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, and ongoing nuclear meltdown (it has not stopped… it’s just that we do not speak of it anymore) brought on by a natural disaster, forcing us to consider our plights of nature’s power, but also our lack of attentiveness to the stewardship of our resources… and, of course, 311 will now be a day known to be the beginning day of WHO announcing Covid-19 Pandemic.

The reason for the double” exhibits is to honor the memories of the past, but also look into the New. Many of my works, including my recent collaboration with Susie Ibarra (just released in the vinyl form through Innova Records) called Walking on Water”, my post 9 – 11 works of Water-Flames”, as well as some works capturing the journey of trauma of youth in America in my Columbine” paintings. Please be praying for me as this is, no doubt, a journey into the heart of darkness.” Continue to follow me on Instagram or Twitter (@iamfujimura) for updates and events. 

As the Pandemic lifts, we are now faced with a decision. How do we apply what we have learned during the shut-down into our future. A friend asked me how would your life be different now?” What would your answers be? My answer was First, I will no longer be jetting across the globe, going through Newark Airport (a superspread site, as it turns out!) at least five times a month as I used to. Second, Haejin and I decided that I will not be traveling alone, but will ask all the lecture and exhibit hosts (for both of us) to include our partner in planning an event. We are praying about expanding our studio at Fuji Farm to be able to focus on painting and writing, to care for culture and advocate for the oppressed, for our growing Beauty+Justice conversations. Let us know of your stories, and we can share them in this newsletter.

We welcome Ally Lima from Bucknell University this summer to intern with us to write about my exhibits, Haejin’s work with Embers International, and to create a platform for Beauty+Justice conversations in the future. IAMCultureCare, no doubt, will be a critical link toward our effort to bring the New into the post-Pandemic world.

Fare Forward (as T.S. Eliot noted)

– Mako

Guest Writer: Ally Lima

Ally Lima is a junior at Bucknell University, where she is studying English. She recently visited Mako’s exhibit at the Morpeth Contemporary Gallery and reflected on its importance in this pandemic age. 

This past May, I had the pleasure of visiting Makoto Fujimura’s exhibit at the Morpeth Contemporary Gallery in Hopewell, New Jersey. While peering around the gallery, it became evident that the pieces warranted more than a simple glance. The meticulous nature of Fujimura’s style of art forces the viewer to pause and reflect, something that we often forget to do. The exhibit, Candid in May,” featured paintings depicting more aesthetically simplistic scenes of nature as well as larger pieces, both implementing unique mediums such as mineral pigments, graphite, silver, and gold. I made sure to re-visit several of these pieces to truly appreciate the intricacies of this artistic process, though of course it would take much more than one visit to observe all the detail.

On my drive home, I took the hour to reflect on what I had viewed. I found myself with a newfound urgency to truly take in the nature around me, yearning to appreciate more the colors of the trees, the clouds in the sky, or perhaps just an insect on my windshield. To find beauty in the ordinary required simply opening my eyes wider. 

Undoubtedly this past year proved to be bleaker than most. But when we reflect on the pandemic, we must also recognize what it was able to give most of us: time. More time spent at home meant more time to grow observant of the surroundings to which many of us grew blind. The beauty of nature was a gift that remained unwavering during such a turbulent year. Perhaps, a sort of cure for our minds that had lost hope. 

The artistic depictions of the natural world in the Candid in May” exhibit exemplify the power of seeing the beauty wherever we find ourselves. Whether this be at home or elsewhere, we need not force ourselves to seek out this type of artistry, but just to look around a little bit closer. It is no secret that in the current age of technology, we often find ourselves with our heads down (something that I have found myself very guilty of). But if instead we look up occasionally, we will be able to better appreciate this gift of nature, as Fujimura has clearly learned to do.

As the impact of the pandemic on our everyday lives appears to be growing smaller (thankfully), and the pace of life begins to speed up once again, I strive to take with me these moments of simple observation. Even if this means merely pausing to notice a bluebird in my backyard.

Web Links

  • A new podcast from The Veritas Forum exploring what the good life” actually means. 
  • Mako and Haejin speak with Anne Snyder about their journey to pursue beauty and justice together. 
  • In anticipation of Juneteenth, Ahren Samuel, Multicultural Project Assistant for Fuller Youth Institute, suggests four Black thought leaders who can help bring words of hope and liberation to the doorsteps of today’s teenagers.
  • Mako’s 2011 commencement address at Belhaven University was featured in a CNN roundup of the best commencement addresses of all time. 
  • Every poem has ancestors.
  • In the June issue of A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.,” James K.A. Smith writes on weeding, Brandi Carlisle, and the inheritance of words (by way of whale literature).

Header image: personal photograph from my first airline travel since March 2020.