"Columbines - Hope", ©MakotoFujimura 2021, 48x72" diptych, Silver, Mineral Pigments, Oyster Shell on Kumohada
For the "Re-membrance" exhibit at High Line Nine Gallery in Chelsea, NYC, I painted this most recent "Columbines" series which started over twenty years ago, reflecting on the fragility of our lives, youth culture and our culture of violence. I began the series over twenty years ago, and presented a small tarnished silver painting of the series to Columbine High School in Littletown, Colorado for their 20th commemoration.
Columbines series began in response to lament over our culture of violence, but now is a mediation into the enduring and ever changing nature of caring for culture, creation of art that can be a legacy of life to generation to come. Here, I intentionally use tarnished silver and painted over one hundred layers of thin, highly pulverized malachite and azurite over and over until the undulating invisible movements underneath begin to merge with the silver and Kumohada paper. May our hope for the future be just as layered and subtle, countering the blistering realities of culture that has gone awry.
Here's a short note on Columbines based on one of my Refractions essays:
In the aftermath of the Columbine High school shooting, and upon a recommendation by a photographer friend (who covered the tragic event for the New York Post), I walked in the mountains of Colorado, looking for wild columbine flowers. They grow numerous on the sunny mountain faces in summer, white flowers with purple petals and tails like tentacles.
I noticed that there were a few flowers growing in the shade of trees. Instead of purple petals, they were completely white, almost transparent. The delicate flowers symbolized for me perfectly the fragility of lives, so young, haunted by the encroaching darkness of violence. Japanese beauty combines fragility, tragedy as well as their splendors. I sensed something looking at the Columbines that we can see both the destructive future and the legacy of hope through them.
Later another friend told me that the columbines were the early church’s symbol for the Holy Spirit. When I paint the columbines, they come out almost like angels.