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Explore how the arts and faith live together and how you can bring healing to a hurting world through your own creation.
A collection of essays, thoughts, and prayers from award-winning artist Makoto Fujimura, Refractions brings people of all backgrounds together in conversation and meditation on culture, art, and humanity.
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This interview with Mako delves into philosophy, the arts, and theology.
Trim Size: 6 1/2 x 8.5
Cover: Paperback with Flaps
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Available in Spanish
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I cannot even begin to describe how refreshing this book has been to my soul.The author is an artist, husband and father, and devoted follower of Christ. This book is a series of essays, each one leaves you pondering life, beauty, creation, culture, and the God who is at work through it all. I have learned to appreciate some Scriptures from an artists point of view that did not quite make sense before--such as the description of pure translucent gold in Revelation 21:18. He emphasizes throughout the artists task of not merely self expression, but expressing truth and hope, and glorifying God (not self).
This is one book that will don my shelf for years to come, being displayed on my coffee table from time to time. The essays are complimented by beautiful artwork, some of it original to Makoto Fujimura, and some of the pieces from artists he has known, studied under, or been influenced by.
Artists and non artists alike will enjoy this book, and be challenged to let art once again speak into their worldview, something we humans should steward well. Fujimura writes from personal experience, with the perspective of one saturated with many cultures, living through 9/11 and painting before and after such a tragedy, and believing that God sanctifies our artistic efforts. He asks good questions, and will challenge the reader to rethink faith and culture, with hope in the God of reconciliation and redemption.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
9/23/2010 7:00:19 AM
Wanted to be impressed
I wanted to like this book—I really did. The book’s subtitle indicates a promising combination of faith, art, and culture. Though this series of blog postings indeed focuses on the intersection of all three, it simply bored me. The writing exudes grace and the visual artwork intrigues, but felt largely bland. I was expecting the author to be sort of like Henri Nouwen (if he had been a Japanese-American visual artist), or this work to be a more contemporary version of Madeline L’Engle’s Walking on Water, and I suppose that is why I am disappointed.
Peace-making and community-building are recurring themes in Fujimura’s writing, and I think they should be more emphasized in the subtitle so that someone interested in these subjects would be more likely to pick up this book.
I do not consider myself a visual artist, and so perhaps I missed a lot of the richness of this text because of my ignorance. The book is beautifully presented, and I suspect there’s more substance than I was able to appreciate. Anyone who wants to join Fujimura in working as a quiet activist for peace, hope and beauty through the arts will likely be inspired by his writing. However, as an educated layperson inclined to be interested, I was unmoved.
6/14/2009 9:18:53 PM
Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture collects essays written by Makoto Fujimura to artists from 2004 to 2006. Living in post-9/11 New York City, Fujimura challenges artists: How does your art recognize the brokenness around you? How does your art offer hope and redemption in the midst of it?
I began this book months ago. The essays demand to be read contemplatively, even devotionally. I savored it morsel by morsel, letting each piece roll on my tongue, slide down my throat. As I digested it, it became part of me and part of my art.
Makoto leads artists toward art that recovers dignity and beauty without becoming sentimental or ignoring the hurt and brokeness of the world. In fact, the path toward beauty moves through brokenness.
He encourages artists to take the long view of their art in a time when fifteen minutes of fame, instant recognition, and "[peddling] our goods to find significance and survival" rule the art world. "Artists who labor to develop their craft, artists who are committed to a longer view of their art, suffer" (p. 142). But our art isn't for fame, recognition or even significance. It's to glorify God and offer a sacrament to this world. It is to bring God's power of resurrection to the dead.
To do this, artists need the Church to invest in them spiritually and artistically. They need the Church to walk alongside them, to hold them up, even, to support them (emotionally, spiritually, and financially). Fujimura calls for an expanded role for the Church--not just appreciating the arts and using them in their worship (although these things are good), but to train artists and encourage them.
Fujimura's writing awakens hope for the discouraged artist. And who among us is not or has not been discouraged? I read this at a time where I realized I had a choice: to take the easier (although not easy) and marketable road of art or to take the longer, sufferable road.
I chose the longer road.
Heather A. Goodman
6/3/2009 9:42:05 AM
Refractions, by Makoto Fujimura
This contemplative book is written from the introspective viewpoint of an artist, Makoto Fujimura, as a man who survived 911 and lives only a few blocks from Ground Zero in New York City.
His heartfelt desire is to encourage artists to "wrestle with the deep questions of art, faith, and humanity in order to inspire the creative community to engage the culture that is and create the world that ought to be."
Mr. Fujimura shows some of his accomplishments as an artist, using essay to demonstrate his skills and thinking in the creative process of developing artwork.
In Refractions, Mr. Fujimura addresses such topics as:
*the National Council on the Arts
*teens with regressive behaviors
*tensions between the "old" and the "new" culture in China
*the collision of art and democracy
*sharing the true meaning of Christmas through art
*dance - the gift of physical grace
*the purpose of art
While this book was more of an ethereal series of essays, thoughts, and prayers than I am used to reading, it made me think...a lot. I realize that my view of life is far different, maybe not theologically, but in my awareness of all that is around me. This was an interesting book that I prefered to read in bits and pieces, one chapter at a time. Whether you are an artist or not, I think you will enjoy this deeper philosophical book.
5/16/2009 1:53:24 AM
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Talk of art and more
Because I do crafts which involve creativity, I suspected that I could take away some helpful insight from Makoto Fujimura’s book since he is an artist and someone who understands the creative process. He certainly does know art, but he offers much more. I enjoy learning new information as well, so it was pleasing to come away with more knowledge than I had before.
A good deal of wisdom about faith and art can be found among the collection of essays which make up this book. The author writes as beautifully as is his artwork, which makes it a bit intimidating for an average reader like me to dare comment about his writing! Take my word for it, readers will feel that they have become more cultured by exposing themselves to his thoughts presented in such an ethereal writing style.
Mr. Fujimura lives with his family in the Ground Zero area of New York City and most of the essays shared were written between 2001 through 2006. As one can imagine, the events of September 11, 2001 had a life-changing impact on him and it is apparent that he has reflected on that day often. No doubt that there will be a few essays that readers will find especially moving to them, as I did.
One note of advice I would like to give is that if a reader is unfamiliar with the definition of the word “refraction,” then look up its meaning. It is a word that the author uses about once per essay, so it bodes well to know what it means in order to understand its context as the book is read. See, even before readers open the book there is potential to learn something from the title alone!
5/14/2009 1:37:49 PM