“We live on a little island of the articulable, which we tend to mistake for reality itself.” — Marilynne Robinson, When I Was a Child I Read Books
A Note From International Arts Movement
I will always take the blistering heat of summer over the frigid, sub-zero temperatures of winter. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I grew up outside of Pittsburgh, where the winter seemed to stretch on endlessly (we got snow in April) and the sky often looked like the underside of a fat, dead pigeon: gray and wet. Whatever my latent, winter-related trauma may be, summer will always be my favorite season. The world opens up. Green spaces become more populated. The days are longer and the hours seems to stretch beyond their natural capability. Conversations spill over from day to night. Beverages on front porches taste sweeter. Food hits your tongue and the taste is sensational.
I think, as I look over this simple list of simple delights, what I most love about summer is the way that it amplifies gratitude. Sure, there is a case to be made for this being a false sense of gratitude given that my life is mostly going the way I want it to (i.e. the sun is shining and I am not at risk of breaking my back by slipping on an invisible yet deadly sheet of ice when I venture outside). But actually, I think that my life feeling pretty magical is actually the perfect time to practice gratitude. When you practice gratitude during the good moments, when you store up those simple delights and place them in a delicate bottle on a shelf in your brain, you can reach for them when things aren’t magical. When life is full of rain and sleet and snow, you can uncork the top of that bottle and release those memories and relive that sense of gratitude and remember that, yes, indeed, life is good and it is meant to be celebrated.
A Note From Makoto Fujimura, Founder of IAM Culture Care
As many of you know, my mentor Dr. Tim Keller passed away last month, leaving a remarkable legacy through his Redeemer Church and City to City movement of churches. As I look back, almost every aspect of IAMCultureCare has indelible marks of Tim’s theology and leadership. I base the following on my Instagram account post the day he passed:
On the day that Tim took his last breath, I was on my way to Shanghai, for a museum exhibit. This museum exhibit was organized by a gallery that began when a City to City church planter introduced me to a group of leadership in Taipei. Thus, indirectly, I was in Shanghai because of Tim and the City to City movement that Redeemer gave birth to.
When we walked into my exhibit at C3 Museum In Shanghai, I was startled to find a painting “A Leaf by Niggle” there. Of course, this had been planned before with my approval by my gallery in organizing the exhibit, but the painting greeted me like an old friend.
This painting, like so many other things in my life, was influenced by Tim. It was Tim that encouraged me to read this little known J.R.R. Tolkien’s story is one of his favorites. “It’s a fascinating tale, one of my favorites. A must read for an artist,”
I base my theology (now called “Theology of Making”) partially based on my conversations with Tim to highlight Jesus as our Creator, and Niggle came up many times in my conversation with him. IAMCultureCare is an entrepreneurial effort that imbeds into the gap between the church and the world, to provide a place for the thriving model of Creation into the heart of culture. “Culture Care” is a language of hope to speak about these issues in a public sphere with those who may or may not share our faith.
Now, this painting, painted many years ago, revealed itself to me as I stood at this exquisite museum, pairing my work with exquisite imperial Chinese porcelains in their remarkable collection. This painting is a portal into the New Creation. It is a fulfilment of what Tim and I dreamt of in an increasingly hostile world against faith.
This painting, after about a hundred layers of finely pulverized azurite and malachite, the tree is almost invisible, painted with thin washes of water. For many years, there was very little image there. But now, the subtle watermarks have become a fully embodied image. The leaves and the invisible tree have become fully manifested.
I suppose New Creation is like that, our efforts of faith, like watermarks, may remain invisible for many eons. And yet, the indelible grace will eventually reveal the true art of our lives.
May Tim now see the forests of Niggle’s leaf, so faithfully and well done.
I was startled to find, after 22 years later, that the painting IS complete whole now, because of the watermarks revealing themselves more and more. The tree had generatively become whole.
May our work give wings for our journey toward the New; and may we, like Niggle, discover that our works are multiplied into the other side of eternity.
Makoto Fujimura is the 2023 recipient of Kuyper Prize and author of “Art+Faith: A Theology of Making”. His exhibits this year include Martha Berry Museum, North Bund Museum. Redeemer University Gallery and Bradford Gallery in Nashville.
- A case for taking Intermediate Greek: “Reading ancient languages requires slow and careful thinking and processing of a sort that we do not normally utilize in our pressure-cooker fast-consumer world. It also requires patience, concentration, and an investment to engage faithfully in a task day in, day out, all with an eye to reaping benefits at some point in the future.”
- There is still hope for organized religion, according to Tish Harrison Warren and Eboo Patel.
- How three amateurs cracked a 445-year-old code to reveal Mary Queen of Scots’ secrets.
- “But hope is a demanding virtue, not a sunny disposition. It accepts reality, acknowledges obstacles and insists, as the bard of hope Barack Obama put it, “that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it,” writes Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr.
- Greg Thompson writes about what it means to dream big for Comment Magazine.
- “I expect I’ll never see him again, but I don’t mind that. I’m overjoyed just to know he’s out there somewhere. Against all odds and my own worst fears, he’s still there.” Margaret Renkl teaches us all a lesson, courtesy of an endangered species.