Makoto Fujimura

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Makoto Fujimura (born 1960) is a 21st-century artist. He graduated with a B.A. from Bucknell University, then studied in a traditional Japanese painting doctorate program for several years at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music with several notable artists such as Takashi Murakami and Hiroshi Senju. His bicultural arts education led his style towards a fusion between fine art and abstract expressionism, together with the traditional Japanese art of Nihonga and Kacho-ga (bird-and-flower painting tradition). He is the director of the Brehm Center in Pasadena, California, an organization that aims to integrate Christianity and Art into an education at Fuller Theological Seminary. [1]


Early Life[edit]

Fujimura was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1960. [2]Both of his parents were of Japanese descendent and after Fujimura was born, they returned to Japan, where Fujimura spent most of his childhood. When he was 13 years old, his family decided to come back to the United States.[3]


Fujimura graduated cum laude from Bucknell University in 1983 with a double major in Animal Behavior and Art with a minor in Creative Writing.[4] Fujimara went on to study traditional Japanese painting at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. He received his M.F.A. in 1989. He was invited back to the Tokyo National Univeristy of Fine Arts and Music to continue his education. There he received his Doctorate in Nihonga, an ancient Japanese painting style. He was the first non-Japanese citizen to participate in the Japanese Painting Doctorate Program, which dates back to 15th century. [5]



Golden Sea. Mineral Pigments and Gold on Kumohada. 80 x 64 inches. 2011.

Fujimura’s paintings are a combination of the traditional Japanese painting style known as Nihonga and Abstract Expressionism. Throughout the 1990s Fujimura exhibited his paintings in both Japan and the U.S. In 1992, at the age of 32 Fujimura became the youngest artist ever to have a piece acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.[6]


In 2011 the Fujimura Institute was established and launched the Qu4rtets, a collaboration between Fujimura, painter Bruce Herman, Duke theologian/pianist Jeremy Begbie, and Yale composer Christopher Theofanidis, based on T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. The exhibition travelled to Baylor University, Duke University, and Yale University, Hong Kong University, Cambridge University, Gordon College, Roanoke College and other institutions around the globe. Qu4rtets became the first contemporary art exhibited at the historic King's Chapel in Cambridge, UK, for the Easter of 2015, and was exhibited in Hiroshima for the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings in November 2015.

He is represented by Artrue International and exhibits regularly in Waterfall Mansion Gallery in New York City and other galleries internationally. His works are in permanent collection at the National Modern Museum of Art in Tokyo, Yokohama Museum of Art, Tokyo University of the Arts Museum, the Saint Louis Museum, the Cincinnati Museum, and the CNN building in Hong Kong, and other museums globally. Tikotin Museum in Israel will host a solo exhibit in 2018 curated by James Elaine.

His work includes “The Splendor of the Medium”, "Water Flames," and "Charis," and "Golden Sea," a collection of paintings using stone-ground minerals including gold, platinum, azurite, malachite and cinnabar. He has collaborated with percussionist/composer Susie Ibarra on multiple occasions, and his live painting was recorded by Plywood Pictures in "Live in New York: Susie Ibarra + Makoto Fujimura." (2009)

In November 2009, Fujimura's works were coupled with works of Georges Rouault at Dillon Gallery. Fujimura created several new works in homage to the 20th century master, the catalyst of the "Sacred Arts Movement" in Paris that influenced Picasso, Matisse and other modernist artists. Fujimura wrote an essay for the show that was included in a short book that was produced to accompany the show called "Soliloquies" (Square Halo Books, 2009).

Crossway Publishing commissioned Fujimura in 2009 for The Four Holy Gospels project to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the publishing of the King James Bible. It was the first time that a single artist has been commissioned to illuminate the four Gospels in nearly five hundred years. The Gospels were on exhibition at the Museum Of Biblical Art in Manhattan in 2011, and are on display in Takashimaya, Nihonbashi, Tokyo, until December, 2011. The Four Holy Gospels consist of five major frontispieces, 89 chapter heading letters and over 140 pages of hand illumined pages, all done in traditional Nihonga. The Four Holy Gospels original art will be featured in "Four Holy Gospels Chapel" at the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C..

Published Writings[edit]

He is also an author of several books including "River Grace" (Poiema Press, 2008), and "Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art and Culture" (NavPress, 2009), and Culture Care (Fujimura Institute, 2014). IN 2016, Fujimura released "Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering" (IVPress), an autobiographical journey into Shusaku Endo's "Silence".

  • "Silence and Beauty" Aldersgate Award Winner (IVPress, 2016)
  • "Culture Care" (Fujimura Institute, 2014)
  • "The Aroma of the New" (Books and Culture, 2011)
  • "Fallen Towers and the Art of Tea" (2009)
  • “Refractions: a journey of art, faith and culture” (NavPress, 2009)
  • "Withoutside: Transgressing in Love," Image Journal, "Twentieth Anniversary Issue: Fully Human," Number 60 (2008)
  • "A Letter to a Young Artist," Scribbling in the Sand, Michael Card, InterVarsity Press (2002)
  • "Fallen Towers and the Art of Tea," Image Journal, Number 32 (2001)
  • "An Exception to Gravity - On Life and Art of Jackson Pollock," Regeneration Quarterly, Volume 7, Number 3 (2001)
  • "River Grace," Image Journal, Number 22 (1999)
  • "That Final Dance," It was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God, edited by Ned Bustard, Square Halo Press (2000)


Fujimura acted as a special advisor to the major motion picture by Martin Scorsese based on Endo's "Silence". Fujimura's essays have appeared in Image Journal, American Arts Quarterly, Time and World magazine. His essay "The Fallen Towers and the Art of Tea" was selected for Image Journal's "Bearing the Image: Twenty Years of Image" anthology. He is featured twice in the book "Objects of Grace: Conversations on Creativity and Faith" (Square Halo Books, 2004) and contributed an essay and artwork to "It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God" (Square Halo Books, 2007). In 2010 Fujimura made his on-screen debut with commentary in the award-winning documentary, The Human Experience. His mid-career retrospective catalogue "Golden Sea" (Dillon Gallery Press) was released in 2013 with essays by Daniel Siedell, Roberta Ahmanson, Nicolas Wolterstorff, and others. Golden Sea includes a full documentary of the same title by Plywood Pictures. Fujimura has recently served as an executive producer of a short film "Abstraction: Dianne Collard Story", a finalist at the Heartland Film Festival.


On September 1, 2015, Fujimura was appointed Director of the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts at Fuller Theological Seminary. In this role, he will be a “vision director” for Fuller’s Brehm Center, leading and teaching from his studio space in order to foster a robust, imaginative experience for students. Fujimura hopes to be a catalyst for innovation in the future of seminary education, integrating the best of the arts into the church, seeing cities as classrooms for that integration, and helping the church to become the leading practitioner of culture care. Fujimura understands "culture care" as giving import to the creation and conservation of beauty as an antidote to cultural brokenness by asserting a need for cultural “generativity” in public life. (See his speech on culture care at the National Press Club.) Fujimura’s book [1] is a support volume to the personal gatherings and international speaking engagements in which he shares that vision with like-minded artists, supporters, and creatives.

Fujimura founded the International Arts Movement in 1991. He has co-hosted several major conferences for the International Arts Movement, and continues to develop the gathering through Culture Care Summit (Feb 8-12th, 2017 at Fuller).

He has lectured at The Aspen Institute, Hong Kong University, Bucknell University, Cairn University, Gordon College, Grove City College, The King's College (New York), Princeton University, Yale University, Baylor University, Belmont University, Duke University, Belhaven University and has been a keynote speaker in various arts, academic and business conferences.


Fujimura is a recipient of 2014 American Academy of Religion's "Religion and Arts Award". Previous recipients of the award include Meredith Monk, Holland Carter, Gary Snyder, Betye & Alison Saar and Bill Viola. He is also a Senior Fellow at The Trinity Forum.

Fujimura received 2016 Aldersgate Prize, which "celebrates the outstanding achievement of an author whose scholarly inquiry challenges reductionistic trends in academia by yielding a broad, integrative analysis of life's complexities and shedding fresh light on ultimate questions that enliven Christian conceptions of human flourishing.", for his "Silence and Beauty" book on Shusaku Endo. Fujimura was a special advisor for Martin Scorsese on "Silence" production. Fujimura Institute brought collaborative exhibit at Shusaku Endo Literature Museum in Sotome, Nagasaki on August 2017.

Bucknell University honored him with the Outstanding Alumni Award in 2012.

Fujimura is a recipient of four Doctor of Arts Honorary Degrees, from Belhaven University in 2011, Biola University in 2012, Cairn University in 2014 and Roanoke College in 2015. His commencement address "The Aroma of the New" given at Belhaven University was chosen by NPR as one of the 300 "The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever."

He was appointed by President Bush to the National Council on the Arts in 2003. At the completion of his term in 2009, then Chair Dana Gioia awarded him the Chairman's Medal for his service and contribution to arts advocacy in the United States.


Fujimura is the son of Osamu Fujimura (scientist), one of the pioneers of speech science. Fujimura's journey of faith is recounted in his recent book "Silence and Beauty". Back when he was in Japan studying traditional methods in Japanese art, Fujimura at this point of his life was searching for a deeper meaning and purpose in life. Soon both he and his wife started to attend church, but he did not find satisfaction, thinking the Bible's teachings were not applicable for the modern world. It was not until he read the poems of William Blake, where he found new meaning in Christianity and began his journey of his new found faith. Ever since then, he has intertwined his artwork with his faith. Afterwards, he wanted to help other artists and creative people alike who struggle with their art and faith and it became the organization called the International Arts Movement. [3]

External links[edit]


June 23, Shane Blackshear on; 2016. "Seminary Dropout 130: Makoto Fujimura, Author of Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering". Missio Alliance. Retrieved 2019-03-05.

"Makoto Fujimura | Bio". Retrieved 2019-03-05.

Risdon, Nate. "Faculty & Staff". Brehm Center. Retrieved 2019-03-05.

"Makoto Fujimura". Image Journal. Retrieved 2019-03-05.

"Makoto Fujimura Awarded 2016 Aldersgate Prize for "Silence and Beauty"". Retrieved 2019-03-05.

Forum, The Trinity (2015-06-02), Evening Conversation with Makoto Fujimura, retrieved 2019-03-05

Glaspey, Terry. 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know. Baker Books, 2015.

  1. ^ Michael. "About". Brehm Center. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  2. ^ "Makoto Fujimura". Image Journal. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  3. ^ a b Glaspey, Terry (2015). 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories Behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books. pp. 338–341. ISBN 9780801017100.
  4. ^ "Makoto Fujimura | Bio". Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  5. ^ "Makoto Fujimura". Image Journal. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  6. ^ "Makoto Fujimura". Image Journal. Retrieved 2019-03-05.