“How is faith to endure, O God, when you allow all this scraping and tearing on us? You have allowed rivers of blood to flow, mountains of suffering to pile up, sobs to become humanity’s song — all without lifting a finger that we could see. You have allowed bonds of love beyond number to be painfully snapped. If you have not abandoned us, explain yourself…We strain to hear God in our sorrows. But instead of hearing an answer we catch the sight of God himself scraped and torn. Through our tears we see the tears of God… through the tears of God we see the splendor of God.” - Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son
A Note From International Arts Movement
Like many of you, I watched in horror on Monday afternoon as the news broke of the shooting in Nashville, Tennessee. In the past year and a half, I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of traveling to Nashville for work on more than one occasion, soaking in the city, getting to know the people that live there, and learning about it’r rich and vibrant culture. One thing that struck me immediately was how close-knit the people there are. Although it’s one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., people know one another deeply. They say hello, they strike up conversation, they ask questions.
What a striking moment then, when a shooter, someone KNOWN to their community, enters a school and claims the lives of six innocent people. I hesitate to even write about this, because I know that there are no words that will ever even come close to encompassing the grief and fear and anger that no doubt grip the city of Nashville, and The Covenant School, for days to come. Grief is a tidal wave that continues to wash up on the shores of the human heart.
In times such as these, it seems like there is nothing we can do but mourn. Mourn the senseless and heinous loss of life. Mourn the tragedy of lives cut short. Mourn the incomprehensible firsts that are ahead for everyone involved. And yet, we do not mourn without hope. Somewhere, deep down, this story is taking root in culture and in the hearts of those who mourn. We watch as sadness turns to joy and the cracks and fissures created by the tragedy are mended with the brilliance of distance and time. We do not lives our lives in vain, but rather in pursuit of creation.
A Note From Makoto Fujimura, Founder of IAM Culture Care
Q: So much of your artwork has deep connections to Christianity, have you always been public about the connection between your art and faith when showing work in galleries, or when/where does that come out?
A: Yes, ever since I had my “inversion” into understanding Jesus’s love for me, I have implicitly and explicitly dedicated my exhibit to God. It was very clear from the beginning that I would not be creating beauty if it was not for God’s call.
Q: Has being a Christian impacted your opportunities to show/sell work in the art world, and if so how?
A: Not sure about the market side, but critic James Elkins once told me that if I had not been so explicit about my Christian faith, I would be considered one of the great sublime artists of our time. I told him that that is the greatest “review” I’ve ever received. My journey has never been driven by the transactional reality of the market of art (but I have thoughtfully and intentionally created an entrepreneurial model for the marketing of my work in the art world. I have done almost nothing to cultivate toward a transactional Christian market, which I feel promotes an adjectival existence of faith, rather than a public genuine faith.).
Q: I’ve seen and read many things about your work, but I’d like to hear your words: In terms of location/context, where is your artwork in its most ideal state to be seen as it should be, and what impact do you want to have with your paintings in particular?
A: Rothko said that: “It would be good if little places could be set up all over the country, like a little chapel where the traveler, or wanderer could come for an hour to meditate on a single painting hung in a small room, and by itself.” (the artist cited in Exh. Cat., Riehen/Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Mark Rothko: A Consummated Experience Between Picture and Onlooker, 2001, p. 22)
I feel the same way about my works, especially my recent works
Q: Along with a painting practice, you’ve also done several other things including writing books and establishing programs like Culture Care and Academy Kintsugi. Do you consider this part of your art practice as well, and how do they connect?
They are definitely part of my “relational aesthetics” but I do not feel I own them, as in some “Collective” sense. But I realized a long time ago that even if I gained success in the world, that will do nothing to prepare the next generation of audience and viewers who can cultivate the cultural soil. That’s why I spend much time volunteering to help with Culture Care efforts. My writings come out of my studio practice, so I do not see them as separate acts.
- “For the faithful believer, prayer isn’t a substitute for action, it’s a prerequisite for action.” In the wake of another terrible tragedy, David French insists that prayer is an appropriate and necessary response.
- Jesus Revolution has been a box office hit—racking up $49 million in ticket sales so far. Olivia Reingold reports on audiences’ responses to the film and considers how other faith-based films have fared in Hollywood.
- Aditi Sriram reviews Daniel Nayeri’s newest middle-grade novel, “The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams,” a story about a runaway orphan who joins a caravan traveling through the ancient silk road.
- T. David Gordon describes how the brain is shaped by the mediums of communication we give our attention to and considers what this implies for our relationship with digital media.
- If you’re in or around Nashville, join the Trinity Forum for an event with Mako and poet Dana Gioia about beauty amidst suffering! Tickets can purchased here.
- The ritual of cinema has the power to bring people together and reduce social isolation, says Houston Coley in his piece.
Header Image: @KellyLatimoreIcons