Thursday, November 20, 2014


Last week, Ilana and Baby Leopard and I went to hear Evangelical artist Makoto Fujimura speak. He's interesting because he's theologically reflective (although unfortunately, given that he's an artist, he spoke surprisingly little about his technical artistic process).

He criticized the culture wars, arguing instead for the role of beauty in drawing Christians and non-Christians alike together and giving them common ground.

He showed this picture:

which he painted to illuminate Matthew, and particularly the line, "consider the lilies." He drew attention to Jesus's command to consider the lilies, situated between His command to be anxious for nothing, and His command to seek first the kingdom of God. He intimated that considering the lilies can help us move away from anxiety and toward seeking first the kingdom of God. Fujimura argued that considering the lilies is a reflection on beauty (again, one that anyone can engage in).

Evidently he's obsessed with Emily Dickinson (between that and his paintings based on the Four Quartets, it's obvious that he has good taste). He quoted her letter that says that considering the lilies was the only commandment that she ever obeyed.

He gave a reading of one of her poems. I was wondering what he could offer in terms of interpretation, and I certainly wouldn't say that his interpretation was thorough--it was a bit scattered and didn't illuminate the poem's meaning, but it was artful. He captured aptly her use of hyphens as an aesthetic choice (he called them stitches that move through her poems).

What I don't get about his art: it's abstract and evocative, all of which is fine and good, but he wants the viewer to get that this painting:

is about Jesus walking on water, better yet before you've even seen the title of the painting. I just don't know about that.

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