Makoto Fujimura

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. He was the first non-native to participate in the Japanese Painting Doctorate Program, which dates back to 15th century. His bicultural arts education led his style towards a fusion between fine art and abstract expressionism, together with the traditional Japanese art of Nihonga.


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 Culture Care 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). 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 is scheduled to be 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.

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.

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.

A popular speaker, 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. 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". Fujimura acted as a special advisor to the major motion picture by Martin Scorsese based on Endo's "Silence" (scheduled to be released Christmas, 2016). 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 Ima 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 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.

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."

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