“It is not easy to tell a story, certainly not when you have an indication to run quickly toward a happy ending. How can I find the courage to write stories that don’t fit a pre-fabricated frame?” ‑Henri Nouwen
A Note From International Arts Movement
This weekend, between biking and walking and running, I logged a collective 40 miles! It was a lot of movement for one weekend, but there is something irresistible about the city coming awake during the first scorching weekend of the spring. The temperature was in the eighties and nineties and as I sat on the mall trying to swat away the flies that were swooping in and out for a taste of the ice cream cone melting in my hand, I was overcome for a brief moment thinking about how different this scene was last year. It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that we were all thinking about ways to keep ourselves entertained inside, stocking up on masks, and wondering when we would all get to hug our friends and family members again. A year later, we seem to be emerging from the pandemic. With so many adults being vaccinated, things are slowly returning to normal.
I’ve thought a lot about the word “normal” over the past several weeks, including this weekend, as I spent time with friends outside, enjoying the weather and doing things we love. Scientists and academics and thought leaders of every stripe predicted that the pandemic would be a line in the sand. Something that would alter the course of our world and the ways in which we interact with it and one another. Now, though, as my phone is flooded with invitations to birthday parties and work meetings and happy hours, I find myself wondering if the pandemic really did change things. Are things different? Or did we just live through a strange, momentary pause?
I know that if I’m being honest with myself, I’m not sure I want my life to return to its former state. For many people, myself included, the pandemic provided a forced reset; an opportunity to rest and reflect and take stock of my life in a way that I had never done before. I certainly don’t want to discount the very real suffering and pain that it caused, but I can also say, with deep gratitude, that although the pandemic was undoubtably hard, it was also profound. I learned that busyness is not the solution to everything, that slowing down has merit, and our lives are overrun with noise that we are too numb to see.
Now that things begin to open up and life resumes its regular, frenetic pace, I want to take one final moment to stop and observe: what do I want to carry with me into this next season? What do we feel called to in our lives? What are the things that we want to pay attention to and continue to watch and learn from? The world is full of opportunities for culture care, and this moment, as we stand on the threshold of a new beginning, calls for attention and care like never before.
A Note From Makoto Fujimura, Founder of IAM Culture Care
My exhibit at Morpeth Contemporary in Hopewell, NJ just opened, and the opening was the first time that I spoke in front of a live audience in a year and a half. It felt deeply meaningful to have this local exhibit featuring (mainly) small watercolors and prints. I spoke on the (Emily Dickinson) line “Covert in April/Candid in May.” How Iris roots (or tulips in Amherst, MA) shoots up in May to reveal their delicate flowers. “Candid” is a loaded word. It can refer to being open, but also honest and vulnerable. It’s an appropriate word for our time, as we need to reveal ourselves in a new way to the world, perhaps even reintroduce ourselves, and that takes vulnerability. “Candid in May” is ultimately a hope filled word, of a condition in which we can open up, like an Iris, to be exposed to balmier air. Here’s a video clip of the artist talk at Morpeth.
Even though we have decided to push back our LA exhibit, we are considering an exhibit this fall in Chelsea to commemorate the 20th commemoration of 9⁄11, and to speak of healing journey out of trauma, so stay tuned! Haejin and I are busily preparing for the upcoming gala for Embers International to assist with the COVID crisis in India. Meanwhile, we will be formulating the future path for Kintsugi Academy to target specific arrange of bringing Beauty and Justice together. (Follow us on @HaejinMako and @academykintsugi on twitter to be in conversation with us.) For the re-launch of Kintsugi Academy, we just conferred with Dr. Curt Thompson, Fujimura’s Institute scholar and psychiatrist, to help us create future workshops for facilitators. We also have been working with Dr. Patrizia Bonaventura of Hofstra University to create workshops as part of UN Sustainable Project. So many more announcements are anticipated!
We are also very close to finalizing a study guide for churches of my book Art+Faith: A Theology of Making (Yale Press). We should have PDF downloads set up by the next month, so please consider creating a group in your community to have a gathering of culture carers to begin creating into the post-Pandemic world.
- How do you feel about death? Meet the nun who wants to remind you that you will die.
- Tim Keller traces the disappearance of the thing we need most: forgiveness.
- An interview with Mako on the Hope Unabridged podcast, where he discusses art, faith, and the theology of making. You can also listen to his interview with the folks at OnScript here, where they discuss the difference between generativity and efficiency.
- How has the pandemic transformed your life? And what will you carry with you into this new phase? Arthur Brooks contemplates this question in his latest piece for the Atlantic.
- College graduations are upon us! But is post-grad everything it’s cracked up to be?
Header image: personal photograph from a recent bike ride to the National Mall.