“Ideas must be incarnated; ideals must be embodied.” (Refractions, p. 82)
You need to pinch me to wake me up from this dream. I was in a surreal painting. Better yet, one that had layers of minerals and gold (nihonga). It was an idea which started with a thank you gift. . I gave Makoto Fujimura’s Refractions to Dr. Carroll Smith after a workshop he gave in Charlotte in 2010. You have to be careful when you give a book. It will be read. One thing leads to another and the idea incarnated: Dr. Smith asked Makoto to speak for this year’s conference.
For me, it started with his writing. I use The Five Hundred Year Question (Refractions 19: http://www.makotofujimura.com/writings/refractions-fra-angelico-and-the-five-hundred-year-question/) in teaching Literature and Aesthetics for high school students. Then the domino effect happened. I was literally put in NYC for IAM’s Encounters 2011: Be Generative . Then we had to see his Four Gospel paintings at MOBIA in NYC six months later. You must see paintings in museums or galleries. Ask my daughter. Ask Charlotte Mason. Ask Makoto Fujimura. Flat print does not do justice to the beauty of the work . The next domino (to catch up with above): Dr. Smith asked Makoto to speak. Fast forward to June 6th and here we are at the airport watching the escalator stairs for Mako to arrive to go to meet artists/writers/musicians/educators in Rock Hill, SC then onto GWU for the conference.
Makoto spoke on Culture Care: Creating a Cultural Ecosystem for the Thriving of Art, Culture and Humanity. It was a deep well of living water. Makoto is a voice to listen to in this 21st century. His art to study.
My notes: Our culture is consistently dehumanizing us. Culture Care is to care for our culture as much as we have learned to care for our environment. The Good, True, and Beautiful all rehumanize. We need poets, for this reason, for the terms to identify in the way scientists do. Poets give us a language. Culture Care moves away from the culture war language. It is like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Artists give you the language. They teach us empathy. Poet, Dana Gioia said,
“The goal of arts education is not to create artists, although that is a fine by-product: the goal of arts education is to create better doctors, engineers, politicians, teachers, fathers and mothers.”
We have been negligent in Culture Care with shallow roots. Hear Mako’s passion: ”Today we have a language to celebrate waywardness. What we do not have is a language , a cultural language, to bring people back home. Everything I do has something to do with that.”
We viewed many of his paintings including from The Four Gospels, 400th Annivesary of KJV:
Luke – Prodigal God
Mineral Pigments, Gold, Platinum on Kumohada, 48 x 60 inches
Our culture is polluted and full of weeds. We need to go back to the poets and artists and dancers and writers. Emily Dickinson “considered the lilies” in whatever she did. It was her cultivation. In this post-atomic age, this is where we will find hope.
It was a sacred place that evening.
Books mentioned in the lecture:
Earthwise by Calvin DeWitt
IAM lecture by DeWitt: Encounter 11: Calvin DeWitt on the Art of the Ecosystem
The Social Animal : the hidden sources of love, character, and achievement by David Brooks
TED Talk with David Brooks : http://www.ted.com/talks/david_brooks_the_social_animal.html
Poetry and prose by Dana Gioia : http://www.danagioia.net/
Essays by his wife, Judy Fujimura, who has a therapeutic language to bring those home:
His next project, Four Quartets. is a collaboration with artist Bruce Herman, composer Christopher Theofanidis , and theologian Jeremy Begbie . It will be a traveling exhibit in 2012-2014.
Yes, that is T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets: For us there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
The Golden Sea by Makoto Fujimura
Interview on this project, June 5, 2012:
© Bonnie Buckingham 2012