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Makoto Fujimura is a leading contemporary artist whose process driven, refractive “slow art” has been described by David Brooks of New York Times as “a small rebellion against the quickening of time”. Robert Kushner, in the mid 90’s, written on Fujimura’s art in Art in America this way: “The idea of forging a new kind of art, about hope, healing, redemption, refuge, while maintaining visual sophistication and intellectual integrity is a growing movement, one which finds Makoto Fujimura’s work at the vanguard.”

Portrait of Makoto Fujimura in his studio with paintings in the background
Photo Credit: Windrider Productions

Fujimura  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). Fujimura’s art has been featured widely in galleries and museums around the world, and is collected by notable collections including The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, The Huntington Library as well as Tikotin Museum in Israel. His art is represented by Artrue International in Asia and has been exhibited at various venues including Dillon Gallery, Waterfall Mansion, Morpeth Contemporary,  Sato Museum in Tokyo, Tokyo University of Fine Arts Museum, Bentley Gallery in Phoenix, Gallery Exit and Oxford House at Taikoo Place in Hong Kong, Vienna’s Belvedere Museum, Shusaku Endo Museum in Nagasaki and Jundt Museum at Gonzaga University. He is one of the first artists to paint live on stage at New York City’s legendary Carnegie Hall as part of an ongoing collaboration with composer and percussionist, Susie Ibarra.  Their collaborative album "Walking on Water" is released by Innova Records. 

As well as being a leading contemporary painter, Fujimura is also an arts advocate, writer, and speaker who is recognized worldwide as a cultural influencer. A Presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts from 2003-2009, Fujimura served as an international advocate for the arts, speaking with decision makers and advising governmental policies on the arts. His book “Refractions” (NavPress) and “Culture Care” (IVPress) reflects many of his thesis on arts advocacy written during that time. His books have won numerous awards His books have won numerous awards including the Aldersgate Prize for “Silence and Beauty” (IVPress). In 2014, the American Academy of Religion named Fujimura as its 2014 “Religion and the Arts” award recipient. This award is presented annually to professional artists who have made significant contributions to the relationship of art and religion, both for the academy and a broader public. Previous recipients of the award include Meredith Monk, Holland Cotter, Gary Snyder, Betye & Alison Saar and Bill Viola. Fujimura's highly anticipated book "Art+Faith: A Theology of Making" (Yale Press, with foreword by N.T. Wright, 2021) has been described by poet Christian Wiman as "a real tonic for our atomized time".

Fujimura founded the International Arts Movement in 1992, now IAMCultureCare, which over sees Fujimura Institute. In 2011 the Fujimura Institute was established and launched the Four 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 has travelled to Baylor, Duke, and Yale Universities, Cambridge University, Hiroshima City University and other institutions around the globe.

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 February 2015. His Commencement addresses has received notable attention, being selected by NPR as one of the 200 “Best Commencement Addresses Ever” and CNN as one of the top 16 "The greatest commencement speeches of all time". His 2019 Commencement Address at Judson University, was called “Kintsugi Generation”, laying out his cultural vision for the next generation.

Fujimura was a vision director of Brehm Center at Fuller Theological Seminary to establish Fujimura/Brehm Studio in Pasedena from 2012-2017, and created Fujimura Fellows program which continues under Fujimura Institute.  He works now at "Fuji Farm" studio north of Princeton.

Fujimura is a recipient of 2023 Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life. 

Fujimura also co-founded Academy Kintsugi with his wife, Haejin Shim Fujimura, an international attorney and CEO of Embers International, who serves as the President of Academy Kintsugi.

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