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March 14, 2008

The State of the Arts

An Evening with Makota Fujimara

I attended a lecture last night by accomplished New York City artist Makota Fujimura (Christian, World Magazine's 2006 "Daniel of the Year," world renowned artist, etc., etc.). I have long appreciated his thoughts on Christianity and Art (though I must admit that I personally have a quite untrained art palette...), and he has been gracious enough to offer us his articles for use in the Summit notebook and on our website.

He did not disappoint. Here are a few highlights:

  1. The task of the Christian artist is "re-humanization." To confront people with who they really are and offer inspiration and direction for living their lives as full humans in today's profoundly de-humanizing culture.
  2. The arts are not merely to be weapons in the culture wars, but they are for the Christian to be seen as fulfilling the task of stewardship. (I agree in a sense, but have never understood these to be exclusive of each other - a good steward of the faith today must inevitably confront falsehood. Especially if we are to re-humanize, we must confront what is de-humanizing in culture!
  3. The arts are better positioned to re-humanize than the media, since the media is addicted to sensationalism primarily. (Great point! Neal Postman is saying "Amen" from his grave...)
  4. 4. The world of contemporary art is currently in a downward spiral of narcissism. It is assumed that the point of art is expression, which leads to this downward spiral.
  5. 5. Art is not (or ought not be!) primarily expression, it ought to be about communication. Thus, artists should concern themselves with issues such as truth, persuasion (not manipulation), helping their consumers understand what they mean, etc.

Fujimura has alot to offer us. See his website for articles, musing, and some of his work at www.makotafujimura.com.

By the way, the lecture was sponsored by the John Jay Institute. Anyone considering a life in public service should consider this one-year fellowship between college and graduate school. www.johnjayinstitute.org.


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