Makoto Fujimura

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Makoto Fujimura
Born1960 (age 6061)
Alma mater
  • Artist
  • writer
Parent(s) Osamu Fujimura
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Makoto Fujimura (born 1960) is an American artist. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bucknell University, then studied in a traditional Japanese painting doctorate program for several years at Tokyo University of the Arts 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).



Early life

Fujimura was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1960. [1] Both of his parents were of Japanese descent 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. [2]


Fujimura graduated cum laude from Bucknell University in 1983 with a double major in animal behavior and art and a minor in creative writing. [3] Fujimura went on to study traditional Japanese painting at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1989. He was invited back to the Tokyo University of the Arts to continue his education in a lineage doctoral-level program 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 the 15th century. [1]



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 US. 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. [1]


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 hosted a solo exhibit in 2018 curated by James Elaine.

His work includes "The Splendor of the Medium", "Water Flames", "Charis" and "Golden Sea" a collection of paintings using stone-ground minerals including gold, platinum, azurite, malachite and cinnabar. He has collaborated with 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[ when? ] in "Four Holy Gospels Chapel" at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.[ citation needed ]

Published writings

He is also an author of several books including 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 Shūsaku Endō's Silence . His new book Art+Faith: A Theology of Making (Yale Press, 2021) was released on January 5, 2021.


Fujimura acted as a special advisor to the major motion picture by Martin Scorsese based on Endō'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'sBearing 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[ when? ] served as an executive producer of a short film Abstraction: Dianne Collard Story, a finalist at the Heartland Film Festival.[ citation needed ]


From September 2015 to January 2020, Fujimura was the Vision Director of the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts at Fuller Theological Seminary.

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 (February 8–12, 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, Princeton University, Yale 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. 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 Shūsaku Endō. Fujimura was a special advisor for Martin Scorsese on Silence production. Fujimura Institute brought collaborative exhibit at Shusaku Endo Literature Museum in Sotome, Nagasaki, in 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.

He was appointed by US President George W. 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, one of the pioneers of speech science.

Fujimura's journey of faith is recounted in his book Silence and Beauty. 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 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. 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, now IAMCultureCare. [2]

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