refractions: a journey of faith, art, and culture

April 15, 2009

Makoto Fujimura is a contemporary artist whose home and studio are near Ground Zero. Out of a response to the attacks on 9/11, he began to set aside time every Saturday to write. This was a time to process and reflect on the emotions and changes in his life and city. The result of these writings is a beautifully crafted book called Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture. (In the interest of disclosure, I received a review copy, though this is a book I already had on my wish list and would have gladly paid for.)

In recent years, we have seen a renewed interest in the relationship between art and theology, and Fujimura offers a significant voice in that conversation. The book is a collection of essays loosely joined by the topics of faith, art, and culture, as the title suggests. While some books seem redundant after the first few chapters, the unique subject and fresh thoughts of each essay pulled me forward into every page turn.

What I appreciate most is the awareness that Fujimura displays of his soul and surroundings. He describes this awareness in the book’s first essay:

The process of creating renews my spirit, and I find myself attuned to the details of life rather than being stressed by being overwhelmed. I find myself listening rather than shouting into the void. Creating art opens my heart to see and listen to the world around me, opening a new vista of experience. This is the gift of the ‘second wind.’ Such a state taps into what I now call eternal timefullness.

While I was able to engage and be shaped by his thoughts throughout, it was this awareness that challenged me the most. After finishing the final chapter yesterday, I closed the book and opened my journal. With infinite access to information and social connection, all of us would do well to be a little more connected to our own selves.

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