Hot Best Seller

Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture

Availability: Ready to download

A collection of essays, thoughts, and prayers from award-winning artist Makoto Fujimura, Refractions brings people of all backgrounds together in conversation and meditation on culture, art, and humanity.


Compare

A collection of essays, thoughts, and prayers from award-winning artist Makoto Fujimura, Refractions brings people of all backgrounds together in conversation and meditation on culture, art, and humanity.

30 review for Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    #20for2020reads Book of Essays #theliterarylifepodcast I finished this book with tears in my eyes. The last few chapters touched my deeply as a mother, from Jane Jacobs' fight for 'neighborhood' to Chrisy De'on Miller's anguished lament for her lost soldier son, Adam. Rachael weeping for her children, the basis of much that we call art. I was also blown away by Fujimura's concept of understanding as illustrated in his chapter on The Last Supper by Da Vinci. Understanding is literally standing unde #20for2020reads Book of Essays #theliterarylifepodcast I finished this book with tears in my eyes. The last few chapters touched my deeply as a mother, from Jane Jacobs' fight for 'neighborhood' to Chrisy De'on Miller's anguished lament for her lost soldier son, Adam. Rachael weeping for her children, the basis of much that we call art. I was also blown away by Fujimura's concept of understanding as illustrated in his chapter on The Last Supper by Da Vinci. Understanding is literally standing under. To learn and create we must all begin from a place of humility. I will be sharing one final commonplace quote from this lovely book on the next episode of The Literary Life Podcast.

  2. 4 out of 5

    ladydusk

    I really loved this. I set it as my "Sunday book" that I saved and savored on the Lord's Day. I'm glad I did so. Makoto Fujimura has written a brilliant book of essays about the intersection of faith art and culture (no commas, on purpose). These essays begin with September 11 and finalize with considering the published writings of those who experienced the Iraq and Afghan war(s) in the aftermath of those attacks. At first, while I enjoyed each individual essay, I didn't have the view of how ever I really loved this. I set it as my "Sunday book" that I saved and savored on the Lord's Day. I'm glad I did so. Makoto Fujimura has written a brilliant book of essays about the intersection of faith art and culture (no commas, on purpose). These essays begin with September 11 and finalize with considering the published writings of those who experienced the Iraq and Afghan war(s) in the aftermath of those attacks. At first, while I enjoyed each individual essay, I didn't have the view of how everything fitted together. The second to the last essay, on his experience viewing Leonardo's The Last Supper in Milan, provided the key, As an artist, I naturally try to identify the source of light in a painting because I know that artists often use light to reveal what they want the viewer to see. When looking at this painting, it would be easy to assume that the light is coming from behind, from the windows through which we see a Renaissance landscape. But the source of light in this painting is actually in the face of Jesus reflecting on all of the disciples but Jesus, who is underpainted with black and denied a brightened countenance. (pg 149, emphasis mine) He also, in that same essay, says To Leonardo, such a foundation was immediately accessible. In order to paint as he did, he had to be convinced of a center that holds. So who is at the center? Where does the vanishing point end? It ends on the forehead of the Savior. (p 155, emphasis mine) Every essay is Fujimura seeking the light on the shards of what was shattered. The light of Christ glints, refracted, on angles of broken glass. He helps to give us eyes to see Christ in dance and music, architecture and wrapped buildings, art of our day and days past. To see the light glinting in Japanese culture, China, and the US. The shards are small and large, flat, and angled, imprecisely sized and fitted together. They aren't polished gemstones cut just so to reflect light perfectly. Our world post 9/11 ... post WW1 ... post the Fall ... is more like shattered glass that the refractions go every which way and the light that can be seen is not always clear or straight on - but we must move and look to find it. Fujimura shows us how to do so: to sit under and receive. By doing so he helps us appreciate what artists do even when it isn't Christ they're trying to promote, even when he isn't purposely the center holding things together. Art is an inherently hopeful act, an act that echoes the creativity of the Creator. (p 69) Highly recommended. I think it's my favorite book of the year so far.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Poiema

    A quote from Makoto Fujimura: "Beauty often resides in the peripheries of our lives." This was a meditative book written by an artist whose studio was just blocks away from the twin towers that were toppled during the 9/11 attack. The trauma of that event could have discouraged any sensitive soul from persevering in the work, but the hideous destruction served in this case to solidify and fan the flames of the higher call to create. Makoto Fujimura is unabashedly Christian in his view of culture, A quote from Makoto Fujimura: "Beauty often resides in the peripheries of our lives." This was a meditative book written by an artist whose studio was just blocks away from the twin towers that were toppled during the 9/11 attack. The trauma of that event could have discouraged any sensitive soul from persevering in the work, but the hideous destruction served in this case to solidify and fan the flames of the higher call to create. Makoto Fujimura is unabashedly Christian in his view of culture, but has unique cross cultural contacts and perspectives. The chapters are self contained and often touch on art forms outside of his own expertise. I found his meditations to be thought provoking, elegant, and lovely. This is a book to read slowly and to savor. You will have news eyes to see beauty, while not negating the sacrifice that was required to bring it forth.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    A lovely collection of short essays (reworked from blog posts) and art. Lots of food for thought on art, culture, parenting, living in the city and faith. (8/10)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    Profound, thoughtful words that need to be heard by all Christians in our divided, violent, screaming culture. So many gems that I know I'll need to re-read this one, and I know I'll find fresh insight. Profound, thoughtful words that need to be heard by all Christians in our divided, violent, screaming culture. So many gems that I know I'll need to re-read this one, and I know I'll find fresh insight.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amy Neftzger

    This is a nice read for artists or anyone interested in the arts or how creativity can impact culture. The book is a series of short nonfiction pieces on different topics. Depending upon your stage in life, this book may have a more (or less) powerful impact on you, and each chapter may have a different level of impact because each is unique. The author makes some wonderful points and brings perspective to some of life's most painful moments and how art can be a part of the healing process. This is a nice read for artists or anyone interested in the arts or how creativity can impact culture. The book is a series of short nonfiction pieces on different topics. Depending upon your stage in life, this book may have a more (or less) powerful impact on you, and each chapter may have a different level of impact because each is unique. The author makes some wonderful points and brings perspective to some of life's most painful moments and how art can be a part of the healing process.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emi

    A personal memoir (written as blog posts and later compiled) in which he reflects on an artist's calling in our current culture/world. Inspiring, reaffirming, helpful, and thought-provoking. Would recommend for "broken, brutally honest, creative ... canaries in the cultural mines" -- one of many ways he referred to "artists" in this book. :) A personal memoir (written as blog posts and later compiled) in which he reflects on an artist's calling in our current culture/world. Inspiring, reaffirming, helpful, and thought-provoking. Would recommend for "broken, brutally honest, creative ... canaries in the cultural mines" -- one of many ways he referred to "artists" in this book. :)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Makoto Fujimura is one of the very few Christian artists alive today who seem able to live out their faith without sacrificing the honesty of their work. 'Refractions' is a beautiful, rambling collection of essays on topics as diverse -- yet somehow related -- as 9/11, Japanese aesthetics, and Finding Neverland. Makoto Fujimura is one of the very few Christian artists alive today who seem able to live out their faith without sacrificing the honesty of their work. 'Refractions' is a beautiful, rambling collection of essays on topics as diverse -- yet somehow related -- as 9/11, Japanese aesthetics, and Finding Neverland.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alexis Johnson

    Fujimura's books have changed my life, and were it not for his calm comprehension and reflection, I would have totally lost my mind this year. His understanding of art and the global cultural need is unprecedented--at least from my perspective. I am very grateful for his work and I hope some day I can tell him that in person. Fujimura's books have changed my life, and were it not for his calm comprehension and reflection, I would have totally lost my mind this year. His understanding of art and the global cultural need is unprecedented--at least from my perspective. I am very grateful for his work and I hope some day I can tell him that in person.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    What a thoughtful book. I'm currently reading a chapter of Romans and a chapter of this book each morning. As Paul lays out justification by faith, it's a nice contrast to read Mako's reflective book on art and faith and the revelation of God that is all around us if we take time to notice. What a thoughtful book. I'm currently reading a chapter of Romans and a chapter of this book each morning. As Paul lays out justification by faith, it's a nice contrast to read Mako's reflective book on art and faith and the revelation of God that is all around us if we take time to notice.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Becky Pliego

    Very good. I knew, from other articles he has written elsewhere, that I was not going to agree with everything he had to say, but I am grateful for the things he has to say that are biblical and relevant.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I've been using this book as part of my morning time with God. I love Fujimura's thoughts on God and the creative life. His outlook is refreshing and offers expansive ways of considering life with God. I've been using this book as part of my morning time with God. I love Fujimura's thoughts on God and the creative life. His outlook is refreshing and offers expansive ways of considering life with God.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Molly Miltenberger

    I love his blog posts... I think this was a little too scattered.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    The reader's first impression of this book will certainly come from its presentation. The publisher (NavPress) spared no thought in creating a beautiful over sized quality paperback with color reproductions of the author's and other artist's work. I was drawn first to thumb through the book, taking glimpses or tastes of the book before ever sitting down to read it. Fujimura is an American artist using Japanese-style painting, honored in Japan and the US. In 1992 he was the youngest artist to have The reader's first impression of this book will certainly come from its presentation. The publisher (NavPress) spared no thought in creating a beautiful over sized quality paperback with color reproductions of the author's and other artist's work. I was drawn first to thumb through the book, taking glimpses or tastes of the book before ever sitting down to read it. Fujimura is an American artist using Japanese-style painting, honored in Japan and the US. In 1992 he was the youngest artist to have a piece acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. The subtitle of his book is "A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture." A better word would be journal rather than journey as the relatively short meditations reflect a personal thought process rather than a thorough treatment. This qualifier in no way discounts the value of the book, but it would more accurately reflect what it is. The backdrop of these reflections is Ground Zero where the artist lives. This is the reflective mirror by which these chapters are written. Art as a means of peacemaking is a major theme though any creative reader will find some thing to mull over. Not to be read quickly, the book invites time and reflection, a soaking in of the reality of the presence and importance of art in our daily living. For the Christian this book will open eyes to the gracious gift of creativity which needs to be recognized and valued in the church. A creative artistic interpretation of da Vinci's Last Supper toward the end of the book was riveting and thought provoking. "The greatest message imbedded in the painting--that Judas, the seed of betrayal, is in all of us (153)." During the '80's Fujimura experienced a "transfer of allegiance from Art to Christ which he recounts in "River Grace." Tasting this book draws me to search out his memoir as well. Great quotes: "What makes us truly human may not be how fast we are able to accomplish a task but what we experience fully, carefully, and quietly in the process (27)." "My art reaches for the heavenly reality via earthly materials (28)." "All of earth is 'ground zero' in that our failures and conflicts invade every aspect of our experience, leaving scars (61)." "Art is an inherently hopeful act, an act that echoes the creativity of the Creator (69)." "We need more creative visionaries who would dare even to plant seedlings in stone that will mature into trees whose roots will crack open the rock, as if it were a mere egg, spilling its shalom dirt into the hearts of a city (127)."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mark Oppenlander

    This book is a collection of essays from visual artist Makoto Fujimura. They were originally published as a series of blog posts and in various print and on-line publications. As a Japanese-American, a Christian, an artist and a survivor of the 9/11 attacks (his family lived a few blocks from Ground Zero), Fujimura's topics include art, faith, culture, violent conflict in our world and more. I enjoyed this book. Fujimura has a gentle and humble writing style that takes a meandering path through h This book is a collection of essays from visual artist Makoto Fujimura. They were originally published as a series of blog posts and in various print and on-line publications. As a Japanese-American, a Christian, an artist and a survivor of the 9/11 attacks (his family lived a few blocks from Ground Zero), Fujimura's topics include art, faith, culture, violent conflict in our world and more. I enjoyed this book. Fujimura has a gentle and humble writing style that takes a meandering path through his topics, gently resting on one idea before purposefully moving on to the next. The unhurried nature of his rhythms is refreshing. Reading this book, I could imagine what a delightful, thoughtful conversation one might have with this man over tea or coffee. The inclusion of color plates of some of his artwork and photos enhances the intimate quality of the reflections. Nonetheless, I have to confess that I expected something more. I am not quite sure what. Perhaps I was simply put off by how much of the book deals with his experience of New York City (and the world) after 9/11. My own experience of that event was so different that I found it hard to relate. And I suspected in reading his responses to that ugly historical moment that he and I would probably have different political points of view as well. Or perhaps I anticipated more pithy, crystalline lessons in each of the essays. That's an unfair demand, to be sure, and it doesn't suit Fujimura's style at all. He's not trying to write a book on how to be a faithful artist in the 21st century (although he touches on this theme). But his essays tend to move from specific moments into more diffuse generalizations or abstractions. And I think I wasn't prepared for that; I was expecting something more concrete, I guess. Still, this book engages some interesting topics and is well written and nicely put together. A reader interested in any of the subjects Fujimura writes about may find this well worth their time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    "The church needs to be involved in the arts and even advocate for those outside of faith, precisely because God has poured his grace in all of creation, and every artist, consciously or not, taps into the 'groaning' of the Spirit." This beautiful book is a collection of profound and thought-provoking essays about art and faith. Author Makoto Fujimura is an incredible artist and his perspective on the mingling of art and faith is especially compelling. Throughout the book, he discusses the use o "The church needs to be involved in the arts and even advocate for those outside of faith, precisely because God has poured his grace in all of creation, and every artist, consciously or not, taps into the 'groaning' of the Spirit." This beautiful book is a collection of profound and thought-provoking essays about art and faith. Author Makoto Fujimura is an incredible artist and his perspective on the mingling of art and faith is especially compelling. Throughout the book, he discusses the use of art in the aftermath of 9/11. He talks about the significance behind The Last Supper, and delves into the ancient history of tea as an art form in Japan. The book is full of different stories and anecdotes, and yet it all flows together in a beautiful and inspiring way. I'd definitely recommend Refractions to anyone (especially Christian artists).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    First off, the literal book is exquisite. Beautiful paper, illustrations, incredible design. These are a series of short essays that cover a variety of topics, but mostly about art and how art can have the power to help save and redeem our culture. He makes many lovely points, he quotes great sources, and reading his essays give me hope for Christianity and art. He embraces Christianity in a way that speaks to me: through love, patience, understanding of others, and respect for pluralism. He is First off, the literal book is exquisite. Beautiful paper, illustrations, incredible design. These are a series of short essays that cover a variety of topics, but mostly about art and how art can have the power to help save and redeem our culture. He makes many lovely points, he quotes great sources, and reading his essays give me hope for Christianity and art. He embraces Christianity in a way that speaks to me: through love, patience, understanding of others, and respect for pluralism. He is able to see the beautiful in the broken. THIS is kind of Christianity that we need today.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    I found this book in the “FREE” bin at the public library. What a find! I read one of Fujimura’s books last year (based off of a review I read on a blog) and enjoyed the book. I figured I would like this one too. Refractions is a memoir (really a collection of blog posts and essays). Most of it is concerned with New York City immediately following 9/11. Fujimura deals with faith, art, culture, politics, violence, education, and various other social issues. If for some reason I ever teach a humani I found this book in the “FREE” bin at the public library. What a find! I read one of Fujimura’s books last year (based off of a review I read on a blog) and enjoyed the book. I figured I would like this one too. Refractions is a memoir (really a collection of blog posts and essays). Most of it is concerned with New York City immediately following 9/11. Fujimura deals with faith, art, culture, politics, violence, education, and various other social issues. If for some reason I ever teach a humanities class at a Christian institution, I’ll use this as an introductory text!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Murphy

    Makoto Fujimura is a breath of fresh air wherever he goes in the world and this collection of essays is no different. Beginning with his experience living a few blocks from the towers that fell on September 11 and including his trips to his beloved, yet scarred Japan, Mako Fujimura’s words and perspective in these essays are another gift. This is the kind of book I’ll keep handy to read and re-read as an encouragement to see and make beauty rather than despair at the world’s turbulence and chaos Makoto Fujimura is a breath of fresh air wherever he goes in the world and this collection of essays is no different. Beginning with his experience living a few blocks from the towers that fell on September 11 and including his trips to his beloved, yet scarred Japan, Mako Fujimura’s words and perspective in these essays are another gift. This is the kind of book I’ll keep handy to read and re-read as an encouragement to see and make beauty rather than despair at the world’s turbulence and chaos.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    So, so much to digest from these essays. One one hand, the mind & outlook of an artist is on display through life's mile markers, including death, catastrophe, and the arrival of children into adulthood. On the other hand, the concepts behind various presentations & creators are called into question. Toward the artists, the passages are judgment free, yet there are multiple calls to action steered toward the reader. Certainly a volume that demands repeated visits! So, so much to digest from these essays. One one hand, the mind & outlook of an artist is on display through life's mile markers, including death, catastrophe, and the arrival of children into adulthood. On the other hand, the concepts behind various presentations & creators are called into question. Toward the artists, the passages are judgment free, yet there are multiple calls to action steered toward the reader. Certainly a volume that demands repeated visits!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Child960801

    This is a series of essays written by artist Makoto Fujimura that he wrote in wake of the September 11 attacks. The essays look at life, art, trying to navigate a world that is no longer safe and culture.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Marisa

    A powerful collection of essays wrestling with what it means to be an artist in today's culture and the redemptive power of art as a way to steward culture in a fallen world. Highly recommended for any artist searching for a deeper understanding - and theology - of creative work. A powerful collection of essays wrestling with what it means to be an artist in today's culture and the redemptive power of art as a way to steward culture in a fallen world. Highly recommended for any artist searching for a deeper understanding - and theology - of creative work.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Seabolt

    Can’t finish. I’m 50% through. Gorgeous publication and there are a handful of good, new points made, but in every essay, he drops not-so-subtle brags about this or that honor or connection, often where they are not relevant to his point. At this point it has become tedious and distracting.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joshua VanCleave

    A very contemplative collage of vignettes concerning the relationship between the arts and the Christian faith. Makoto Fujimura is no stranger to both, and this book is a great resource to anyone who wants to go deeper with the relationship between these two subjects.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maria Copeland

    A book equally beautiful in writing and design. I don't necessarily hold to everything Makoto Fujimura does, but I do admire his vision for the meeting of faith, art, and culture; and these essays are the sort I would like to be capable of writing someday. A book equally beautiful in writing and design. I don't necessarily hold to everything Makoto Fujimura does, but I do admire his vision for the meeting of faith, art, and culture; and these essays are the sort I would like to be capable of writing someday.

  26. 4 out of 5

    JoAnn Hallum

    “I desire to journey with the creative Spirit” Many of these essays were very inspiring, the last few were especially touching.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Blakey Boy

    i liked it... if i was a christian with an unfounded oppression complex i believe i’d like it even more

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    Thoughtful and thought-provoking as well as being beautifully crafted.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Robert Durough, Jr.

    If you don’t know Makoto Fujimura, you should. Until recently, I didn’t even know of his existence; however, that all changed when a fellow scholar, art enthusiast, and friend, Jeremy McGinniss, invited me to join him and his students to a joint art lecture/presentation of “Qu4rtets” by painters Makoto Fujimura and Bruce Herman. It was a small, intimate setting, rather informal, and quite open to dialogue—not just Q&A. I felt an immediate connection to Fujimura as he spoke of culture and the Kin If you don’t know Makoto Fujimura, you should. Until recently, I didn’t even know of his existence; however, that all changed when a fellow scholar, art enthusiast, and friend, Jeremy McGinniss, invited me to join him and his students to a joint art lecture/presentation of “Qu4rtets” by painters Makoto Fujimura and Bruce Herman. It was a small, intimate setting, rather informal, and quite open to dialogue—not just Q&A. I felt an immediate connection to Fujimura as he spoke of culture and the Kingdom of God at one point and another as he described spending a long time with a painting until you begin to “see” and “under-stand” it—things that may escape casual viewing. Afterward, Fujimura and I had a couple conversations on things like visio divina, spiritual formation, and the connection between jazz and theology. It was then that I picked up Refractions in hopes that I may find it useful for students in The Jacob Institute of Christian Spiritual Formation’s Spiritual Formation Academy, founded by my good friend Jamie Overholser and for which I have been assisting in recent months and am looking to soon create a new course or two. That night I “Googled” Fujimura and discovered much more of his art and organizations of which he is a part or founded to further his passions. I recommend you do the same. Many thanks to Mako for his time, passion for art & culture, and foremost passion for “Jesus Christ, the Author of Creativity” as we journey toward shalom. Now, on to the actual (short) review: Fujimura paints with crushed minerals, which refract light differently than typically used inks, oils, and acrylics and age in such a way that change the way paintings look over time. Refractions is a collection of twenty-three essays spanning the course of several years, reflecting through his writing the same kind of refracting found in his painting. However, much more than painting or writing, Fujimura explains that “Refractions is . . . a whole underlying philosophical framework for creativity and life that I’ve been developing. I now realize I have been unconsciously expanding this theoretical and theological grid as I wrote these essays, not only to describe the creative process, but also to develop a communication style suited for my temperament and to advocate for community vision for the church to honor artists, and even to argue for democratic ideals” (167). Fujimura’s passions and concerns for how faith, art, and culture work together and speak into one another are evident in every essay, but even if it stopped at the first two I’d want this book on my shelf and recommend it to others. This is not a book about Fujimura’s paintings; it’s a book about experience and encouragement written with eloquence and conviction, using his own paintings for context only when necessary. Living only three blocks from “Ground Zero” of the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks in New York City, several of Fujimura’s essays stem from the artistic and cultural aftermath thereof, but that of which he writes transcends those experiences and offers itself to further context and application, making such essays accessible to those who may not share the same contextual experiences. Of course, this goes for his time in Japan, China, and everything else of which he writes, taking the reader on a journey, and after having reached the shore gently pushing him or her off to continue the journey, all in the larger context of living out our faith in Jesus Christ. For those who share our faith and have any interest in art and culture, read this book. It will encourage and inspire.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cody

    I have this goal of reading all my books. I picked up this one because it looked short, but it ended up taking me a long time to read. It is a collection of short essays. I would read one and then I would have to prayer and reflect for a long time on what I just read. Eventually I find myself reading as slowly as I could just so I could soak it all in. The book centered on the Gospel, the arts, or individual and collective trauma, and the intersection of each. Great thoughts. I'm going to pass t I have this goal of reading all my books. I picked up this one because it looked short, but it ended up taking me a long time to read. It is a collection of short essays. I would read one and then I would have to prayer and reflect for a long time on what I just read. Eventually I find myself reading as slowly as I could just so I could soak it all in. The book centered on the Gospel, the arts, or individual and collective trauma, and the intersection of each. Great thoughts. I'm going to pass this book around.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...