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Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture Paperback – February 1, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
But life intervened, first in the form of a traffic collision, then in the form of a layoff from my job. I found myself with more time on my hands than I was accustomed to having, but the last thing I wanted to do was read a collection of meditations by a Japanese-American artist. I read some, found myself foundering, and put it aside. Then, driven by a sense of responsibility to the publisher for sending me a free copy, I tried again. And again. And again.
I found after all my trying that the book was better than I wanted to admit. It isn't that I don't like art. It is that I do like logical, well-reasoned argument. I like a straight highway and a car with plenty of horsepower. Instead, I was forced to meander on a country path through unfamiliar landscapes, never knowing quite where I was going or how I was going to get there. It struck me that this was the sort of book my artistic wife would like. I'm not sure she has ever read a book straight through. She reads the beginning, jumps into the middle, skips to the end, backtracks, quits for a week, resumes from a different spot than where she left off, and generally leaves me dumbfounded. If I tried to read like that, my brain would turn to pudding.
(Full disclosure: My wife reminded me that she read The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck straight through and enjoyed it immensely. Incontrovertible evidence that she is a better person than I.)
Refractions is a book of meditations.Read more ›
In recent years, we have seen a renewed interest in the relationship between art and theology, and Fujimura offers a significant voice in that conversation. The book is a collection of essays loosely joined by the topics of faith, art, and culture, as the title suggests. While some books seem redundant after the first few chapters, the unique subject and fresh thoughts of each essay pulled me forward into every page turn.
What I appreciate most is the awareness that Fujimura displays of his soul and surroundings. He describes this awareness in the book's first essay:
"The process of creating renews my spirit, and I find myself attuned to the details of life rather than being stressed by being overwhelmed. I find myself listening rather than shouting into the void. Creating art opens my heart to see and listen to the world around me, opening a new vista of experience. This is the gift of the 'second wind.' Such a state taps into what I now call eternal timefullness."
While I was able to engage and be shaped by his thoughts throughout, it was this awareness that challenged me the most. After finishing the final chapter yesterday, I closed the book and opened my journal. With infinite access to information and social connection, all of us would do well to be a little more connected to our own selves.
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 choose the longer road.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For any Faith Driven Artist reading how Mako's faith drives his creative life is pure nourishment. I'm using this book kind of like a devotional, where I read and ruminate on one... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
This beautiful book consists of refined blog posts written by Fujimura on a number of topics related to faith, art, and culture. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Mark Beuving
A great work speaks for itself, so why do we want to hear more from an artist whose medium is visual rather than words? Read morePublished 15 months ago by Roberta Morris
What a beautiful, spiritual and expressive soul who avoids New Age excess and nonesense. May his tribe increase.Published 19 months ago by Scott McMurray
Makoto Fujimura is one of those rare animals — a Christian and an artist thriving in the secular world while holding firm to his faith. Read morePublished on March 29, 2014 by demerson19
I was first introduced to the work of Makoto Fujimura via the 4 Holy Gospels project, and I was immediately moved by his paintings. Read morePublished on February 8, 2014 by ZACHARY MCCOY
Not only is Makoto an amazing artist, his words are incredibly expressive and have resonated deeply with me. Read morePublished on September 25, 2013 by T. Flores