by Caitlin Barton and Thomas Hastings
On behalf of OMSC@PTS, Dr. Hastings has the privilege of serving on the seminary’s art@pts steering committee. The mission of art@pts’s is “to promote the place of aesthetics and the arts in the intellectual and spiritual life of the campus and its surrounding communities by providing welcoming spaces for artists to display their work and by fostering dialogue about the significance of the creative arts at the interaction of faith, academy, and society.” With this goal in mind, art@pts held its first exhibit and reception, “New Vista: A Theology of Making” featuring fourteen original paintings and prints by renowned artist Makoto Fujimura. During the reception, Fujimura read from his critically acclaimed book, Art + Faith: A Theology of Making (Yale U.Press) and spoke of how art is a witness to God as the true Artist.
As expressions of the ancient Japanese Nihonga tradition in which he was trained, Fujimura’s “slow art” employs pulverized precious minerals, combining them with modern materials to create many-layered works that actually change over time, depending on age, lighting, and the vantage point of the viewer. These works invite us to stop and ponder them from many angles, including wondering how they touch our lives and our faith in God. The dialogical process of creating and appreciating these Nihonga works mirrors the lifelong process by which we grow in our understanding of God through many-layered, lived experiences. It was also striking to hear Fujimura claim that his art arises from a desire to serve others and is not merely a means of self-expression. This accent on service was beautifully expressed by Makoto and his wife, Haejin Shim Fujimura, who presented a viewing of their recent documentary film focusing on the work of Embers International, their non-profit that empowers young women who have experienced the traumas of poverty and injustice.
After viewing of the film, the audience engaged Makoto and Haejin with questions and comments and got a deeper look into their how they see their work as expressions of beauty and healing. OMSC’s 2022–2023 artist in residence, Everlyn Nicodemus, offered a poignant inquiry and reflection, and the evening ended with a book signing of Art + Faith.
The Exhibit was the start of a momentous week for the Fujimuras as Calvin University announced that he has won the 2023 Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life, and he and Haejin also had the privilege of a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
The exhibit opened September 16 and will run through November 26th at the Erdman Center on the seminary campus. Please stop by!