posted February 27, 2012

Artist Makoto Fujimura to Speak about “Four Holy Gospels” Project

Visual artist and author Makoto Fujimura will present “On Visual Theology: My Journey with Illumining the Four Holy Gospels” through the World Christian Lecture Series of Hope College on Monday, March 12, at 4 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

Fujimura was commissioned by Crossway publishing to create the illustrations for an illuminated, English Standard Version edition of the Four Gospels published in January 2011 in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible in 1611.  He will speak from his experience of immersing himself in the project for two and a half years, meditating on the relationship between art and scriptures. 

“Makoto is a visual artist, writer and speaker, internationally recognized for his aesthetic work and vision,” said Dr. Trygve Johnson, who is the Hinga-Boersma Dean of the Chapel at Hope and whose office coordinates the lecture series.  “He is a man of deep faith in Christ, and consequently has been a mediator for the Christian community in its need to engage the arts, as well as a bridge for the artistic community to have a space to engage the Church.  In this work, Makoto has been able to encourage inter-disciplinary public dialogues in universities in various parts of the world, as well as helping Christian students, professors and graduates engage theologically with social, cultural and political challenges that face artists today.”

Fujimura, a Presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts (2003-09), has contributed internationally as an advocate for the arts, speaking with decision makers and advising governmental policies on the arts. In 1992 he founded the International Arts Movement (IAM), creating a space for artists who are passionate about faith issues to wrestle with the hard questions they face as artists and creative catalysts.

His 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, and Taiku Place (Hong Kong). He 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 11.

Fujimura’s first book, “River Grace,” is an intimate, auto-biographical look at his early years as an artist in Japan.  His 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.

He completed his bachelor’s degree at Bucknell University in 1983 and a Master of Fine Arts Degree at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, and was subsequently the first non-Japanese citizen to be accepted into Tokyo National University’s post-MFA, doctoral-level program in the ancient style of painting Nihonga.  He and his wife, Judy, have three children and live in a lower Manhattan loft.

The World Christian Lecture Series invites recognized Christian thinkers and practitioners who are leaders in their respective disciplines and areas of expertise to join with the Hope and Holland communities in exploring issues, themes and ideas that face Christians in the world.  The annual series, which debuted in 2008 and is coordinated by the college’s campus ministries office, features a mix of speakers that can include Christian scholars, artists, preachers, politicians, and industry and church leaders.

Fujimura’s lecture is also included among the series of associated programs and events taking place in conjunction with the national exhibition “Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible,” which is on display at the Van Wylen Library from Friday, March 2, through Thursday, March 29.  The traveling exhibition for libraries was organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library of Washington, D.C., and the American Library Association Public Programs Office.  It is based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford, with assistance from the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible.  The traveling exhibition was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  More about the exhibition and related events is available online at www.hope.edu/lib/manifoldgreatnes.

While on campus Fujimura will also speak during the college’s Chapel service on Monday, March 12, at 10:30 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., on College Avenue between 10th and 12th streets.  Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located at 277 College Ave., on College Avenue at 12th Street.  The Van Wylen Library is located at 53 Graves Place (11th Street), between 10th and 12th streets on College Avenue.