Artist, writer and speaker Makoto Fujimura spoke in Belmont’s Curb Event Center last night as the keynote speaker for the 2010-11 First Year Seminar. A Presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts (2003-2009), Fujimura has contributed internationally as an advocate for the arts, speaking with decision makers and advising governmental policies on the arts. Fujimura’s work is exhibited at galleries around the world, including Dillon Gallery (New York), Sen Gallery (Tokyo), The Contemporary Museum of Tokyo, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts Museum and Oxford House, Taiku Place (Hong Kong).
“I want to press into you issues I am sure you are thinking about while reading [Common Book] My Name is Asher Lev,” said Fujimura. “I want to talk about my journey with this book and how Chaim Potok captures the contemporary art scene.”
For the past eight months Fujimura has been sequestered working on a commission to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. The commission is an illuminated manuscript published by Crossway and set to be released January 2011. The leather-bound Bible, printed with a six-color metallic process, will comprise the four Gospels as designed and illustrated by Fujimura. Five major new works, painted in the artist’s Manhattan studio, will be the volume’s main images, making this the first such manuscript to feature abstract contemporary art in lieu of traditional representational illustrations. It is this unprecedented marriage of a modern, usually secular art form with ancient scripture that most interests Fujimura, who aims to depict “the greater reality that the Bible speaks of… for the pure sake of integrating faith and art in our current pluralistic, multicultural world.”
In a video detailing the project, Valerie Dillon, whose Dillon Gallery is Fujimura’s main exhibitor, said, “Mako is taking his craft, his creativity and his faith, and he’s able to produce works that say ‘this is who I am’… I think it’s the most fun he’s had painting ever.”
Fujimura has painted live on stage at New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall as part of an ongoing collaboration with composer and percussionist Susie Ibarra. A popular speaker, he has lectured at numerous conferences and universities, including the Aspen Institute, Yale, Princeton, the Q Conference, and IAM’s Encounter 10. Fujimura’s second book, Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art and Culture, is a collection of essays bringing people of all backgrounds together in conversation and meditation on culture, art and humanity. Fujimura founded the International Arts Movement in 1992. International Arts Movement is a non-profit 501(c)(3) arts organization acting as a catalyst to inspire people to engage culture’s spheres of influence. IAM presents lectures, performances, exhibitions, screenings, projects, and workshops to equip the creative community to generate good, true and beautiful cultural artifacts: sign-posts pointing toward the “world that ought to be.”