Water Flames series followed Four Quartets in 2005, and was exhibited at Sara Tecchia Roma in Chelsea, and Katzen Art Museum in Washington D.C. Water Flames took Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” as an inspiration, and drawing from the mystical tradition that states that the flames of judgment is in one accord with flames of sanctification.
Water Flames - "Doe of the Dawn"
Water Flames - "Doe of the Dawn" is attributed to Psalm 22, a Psalm that famously begins with "My God, My God...Why have you forsaken me!", a cry that Jesus quoted from the Psalm on the Cross. This diptych was specifically created for the 20th commemoration of 9/11 terrorist attacks. Fujimura notes in his book "Art+Faith: A Theology of Making":
In 2005, I exhibited a series of new paintings called Water Flames, one of which later became the frontispiece for the Gospel of Mark in The Four Holy Gospels. Loosely based on Dante's vision of his journey to Paradise via the Inferno and Purgatory, I painted flames with, paradoxically, water. Hiroshi Senju (then his studio mate on 9/11/01) had given me traditional Japanese vermilion from the estate of the postwar Nihonga master Seison Maeda, and I layered it more than sixty times to create the luminosity. These images are based on a video of memorial flames at Hiroshima. In Essen ce, I combine the flames of Hiroshima with the image from 1 Corinthians 3 of God's flames (and now Psalm 22). So I have been thinking of the symbolic weight of flames in scripture and at Ground Zero
Fujimura has been part of an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Ellen Davis of Duke Divinity School, an Hebrews text scholar. Psalm 22 has been one of the text used in a Ph.D. level class taught by Dr. Davis, with Fujimura and Rabbi Shai Held as invited instructors. They are working on a book to be published via Baylor University Press on the selected Psalms, and Water Flames - "Doe of the Dawn" will be one of the featured images. As part of the collaboration, Fujimura has been working on a 15 year project of painting one Psalm, using the translation by Dr. Davis, of 48"x 48" canvas, painting one Psalm a month.