Artist Makoto Fujimura speaks at Berry

Abigail Dunagan, Campus Carrier asst. arts and living editor

On March 23 and March 24, renowned artist Makoto Fujimura visited Berry College and hosted two lectures. The first lecture was titled “A Kintsugi Journey: Theology in the making.” Fujimura discussed his artwork and how beauty can emerge from destruction. The second lecture was titled “Beauty and Justice,” and it was hosted by Fujimura and his wife, Haejin Shim Fujimura. 

Fujimura’s art pieces have been on display at the Martha Berry and Oak Hill Museum since February 1. The gallery will be there until April 15. The exhibit is located in the gallery room of the museum. The exhibit includes works such as “Water Flames” and “Walking on Water.” These are large pieces of art, and the spacious gallery room allows viewers to step back and immerse into the paintings. The paintings have been classified as “slow art.” Viewers are invited to look at the art over the course of several minutes. This allows the viewer to appreciate the smaller details of the work, as well as to come to their own understanding of what the art means to them. 

The piece “Water Flames” is a commemoration to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Fujimura is a survivor of the terrorist attacks. “Walking on Water” is a tribute to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that took place in Tohoko, Japan in 2011. 

Senior Vanessa Rice found that she related to Fujimura’s experience of dealing with traumatic events. She really enjoyed hearing Fujimura’s words on the power of learning to harness our imaginations. 

“I really resonate with the fact that he has been through some very traumatic experiences and has experienced having those images stuck in his head,” Rice said. “I realized recently that vivid imagination is a double-sided coin. Even though I sometimes linger on very dark things, the things that I create out of that imagination are worth it.” 

The style of Fujimura’s art is described as “abstract expressionism.” His style includes elements of art from Japan in the 1600s and 1700s. 

Rice said that she enjoyed Fujimura’s speaking style. It can be hard to speak about difficult subjects in a positive manner, but Fujimura was able make these subjects easy to listen to. 

“I was surprised by how much of a sense of humor he had,” Rice said. “I really loved how he incorporated a sense of humor with a sense of sanctity. That was my favorite part of his speaking style.”

Sophomore Alexis Mitchell found that to her, the art represented a washing or a cleansing. Her favorite piece was “Walking on Water,” and she was really surprised with the way Fujimura was able to relate religion to art. 

“It was really refreshing to see that something ugly could be turned into something beautiful,” Mitchell said. “It was really interesting to see how art is not just one dimension.” 

According to Mitchell, she really enjoyed seeing how the artwork could be viewed as having a deeper meaning. As viewers look at the different art pieces, the meaning could be learned from the small details. Water is typically viewed as something that can bring great destruction, but it can also be calming. 

“It’s more than just seeing the art, admiring it, and moving on,” Mitchell said. “You are absorbing it, and it is becoming one with you. I really liked how transformative that was.” 

Aluma Grace Snell (23c) said that her favorite part of the lecture was the idea of broken things becoming beautiful. The art provokes viewers to think about the deeper meanings of the works. According to Snell, she admired that Fujimura’s work because it demonstrated that even the hardest things in life can be made beautiful.

“I love that Fujimura invites us to slow down, contemplate, and really appreciate the art. I think that is something really beautiful and really rare,” Snell said. “I loved when he talked about painting Water Flames, and I love the idea that these flames can bring peace. That was really powerful.” 

Leave a Reply