Makoto Fujimura: art, culture and grace

Emma Stoltzfus — Staff Writer 

Makoto Fujimura, abstract painter and writer, gave several presentations and a workshop at Dordt College as part of the First Monday Series for November.  

The evening discussion with Fujimura continued a more focused discussion on the artist’s personal journey and the semantics of his work. Around 70 people—professors, students, and members of the community—attended the talk and toured Dordt’s small gallery. 

Twenty of Fujimura’s lithographs and monoprints from his 9/11 memorial and Qu4rtet collections line the walls inside and outside the gallery near Eckardt Lounge. 

 

makoto fujimura - contributed

Contributed Photo

Fujimura spoke at length about T.S. Eliot’s set of poetry, Four Quartets. Often read during air-raids in World War II England, the poems hold special meaning for Fujimura as he described reading them aloud in the New York subway each day after the attacks on 9/11. 

 

Junior Ty White, who attended the evening discussion, said he appreciated Fujimura’s “light through the cracks” analogy about using broken pieces to make art. “It shows character and a different aspect,” he said. 

Qu4rtets, a set of four pieces by both Fujimura and colleague Bruce Herman, draw inspiration from Eliot’s poetry—specifically, the relationship between God and man. Fujimura read a short selection to the crowd to give them an idea of the poem. 

Art professor David Versluis, who takes care of Dordt’s rotating gallery, said he’d been aware of Fujimura’s work for over 20 years and found it very special to have “Mako” visit Dordt. 

The next day, Nov. 6, Fujimura hosted a Nihonga—a type of traditional Japanese painting—workshop for Dordt art students and members of the public. 

During his talk, Fujimura spoke on his own faith journey, recounting his time as a student in Japan and initial refusal to label his own faith as being Christian.  

“I don’t like the word ‘Christian artist,’” Fujimura said regarding how he portrays the Gospel in his work. “It’s not an adjective; ‘Christian’ should be a noun. I am a Christian. I am an artist.”

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