Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Art & the world that ought to be

From Makoto Fujimura's 2011 graduation address at Belhaven University, "The Aroma of the New"--

In my field of contemporary art, the tsunamis of ideologies have washed away beauty, goodness, and truth in the past century. Art has chased after novelty and fame, becoming synonymous with greed. Meanwhile, the business of art danced with Wall Street and suffered from the financial collapse, with nearly half of the galleries closing after the Lehman shock. But the marketplace of art had long been dehumanized. If you speak of "creativity" in the MFA crits today, let alone truth, goodness, or beauty, you will be told to mend your ways. We have lost the essence of what it means to be an artist.

True Art does not chase after novelty--it is a sensory quest for the new order of what God is creating, toward fully realized humanity. Using our senses, Art poses deeper questions rather than giving easy answers. To be truly human in a liquid reality, we must resist the culture of fear and cynicism. The World That Ought to Be is not a utopia, an unrealizable fantasy; it is instead created out of sacrificial love. To love is to quest for the World That Ought to Be. Love is enduring, and love uses all of our senses. Love is generative, and will create the stage for the New to appear. The role of the artist in a liquid reality is to awaken all of our senses through creativity and love. Our quest will be to live  more fully in the liminal zone between heaven and earth, the old and the new.

* * *

Updatery, Marly: I am still working on my final burnish of A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage. A mere 160 pages to go! But I have finished my talk for Thursday, "The Breastplate of Moses," and planned what I will read of my own work. And on Friday I get to meet Beth Adams of Phoenicia Publishing and qarrtsiluni as well as her husband, photographer Jonathan Sa'adah. And there is much more...


  1. Fabulous quote!

    And what exciting news that you will be meeting Beth and Jonathan! We were thrilled to meet them on a visit to Montreal a year ago. I look forward to reading all about yours. Isn't this world small?

  2. marja-leena,

    I just wish I wasn't going to be beet-eyed from reading when we they arrive. Ah, well. It will be very interesting, I'm sure!

    Did you write about it on your blog?

    I shall catch up with you and others after Friday... Maybe before, but I doubt it. Going a bit slow here.

  3. It is exciting that you have gotten to meet with online friends, and have found them to be such fascinating people.
    What is your talk about, exactly? Sounds intriguing.

  4. Mako is a real-world friend! We were on a national working group together at Yale Divinity School for three years.

    In Exodus, God asks for the breastplate to be made for glory and beauty. That's what the talk is about: what glory and beauty might mean, and what it is to make something for those purposes. I'll read some of my own poems as well.

  5. I remember when in Torah group we were discussing the making of the Ark of the Covenant, all the craftspeople, particularly the women, were called out to adorn it. So it's very suitable, the topic of your talk.

  6. Robbi,

    Lots of interesting implications if you look at the ornamentation of the temple... But I wanted to take something small and limited--also it is very interesting to think about the conjunction of "glory" and "art" and what that means.

  7. I keep waiting on my Marly book but it seems like it has gotten lost in traffic from New Hersy as well.

    I am tracking its progress (or we might say the progress of war) for a couple weeks. Its in Atlanta now, or shall I saw Hotlanta

  8. Susanna,

    That will teach you to order from some fly-by-night book peddler in the bowels of Newark!

    Just got back from dinner with the Scouts at Crumhorn Mountain. My husband made ribs and turkey for 90. Now I want a nice lie-down but I have to work on my burnishment some more.

    Shall catch up with you later...


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.