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Makoto Fujimura: The Vocation of a Christian Artist


Monday, January 20th Makoto Fujimura visited the American Literature class in Miller Hall. Fujimura spoke to students about T.S. Eliot and the inspiration for his, Fujimura’s, work. His work is on display in Olin Hall as part of the “QU4RTETS” program at Roanoke.

“If you understand it, or anything” Fujimura said, “we are not to understand, but to stand under.” He reminded us that there are things that we cannot comprehend, and with these things we should simply stand under and marvel at all they are.

“QU4RTETS” is an ongoing program that Roanoke College is hosting that combines music, art and lectures with T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets” as its inspiration. The lectures largely took place on Friday evening, and were interspersed with a preview of the music. Saturday was focused almost completely on the music and on Christopher Theofanidis’ piece “Still Point,” performed by the Kandinsky Trio.

During both of these occasions, the art was set up in the Olin Hall Gallery for observation of the attendees of both events. Bruce Herman and Makoto Fujimura both contributed art to the gallery.

Fujimura’s lecture on Tuesday, “The Vocation of an Artist” opened with a section of his recent documentary which took attendants through his New York and Tokyo projects, his studio and his art. At the finish of the video, he introduced his main topic, the concept of vocation or “a calling.”

Fujimura said, “A vocation can shape us as much as we can shape it.” He has dedicated his life to “living a life in which beauty is honored,” something that becomes clear when viewing his work. He also reveals that much of his inspiration and depth come from his faith and his family, both of which have heavily influenced his life.

He finished his lecture by telling the audience that some people say “Why art?” He answered the question with more questions asking, “Why art? Why write? Why live? What are you willing to sacrifice for?”