As a successful artist in Japan and the U.S., Makoto Fujimura has emerged as a voice of authority on the nature and cultural assessment of beauty, by both creating it and exploring its forms. Recognized by both faith-based (Christianity Today, WORLD Magazine) and secular (MSNBC, Wall Street Journal, Forbes) media as a cultural influencer, Mako’s contributions consistently challenge the traditional boundaries between the art and faith communities. A Presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts (2003-2009), Mako has contributed internationally as an advocate for the arts, speaking with decision makers and influencers and advising governmentaL policies on the arts, both in the U.S. and abroad. In 2009, upon completion of his six-year term on the National Council, Mako was awarded the Chairman’s Medal.
In addition to his paintings, Mako’s essays and books have expanded the dialogue about faith, art and culture. His first book, River Grace (International Arts Movement, 2007) is an intimate, autobiographical look at his early years as an artist in Japan. In a refreshingly transparent account, Mako recalls discovering Nihonga, the ancient style of painting that would become his trademark, and being awakened to a longing for higher transcendence through the extravagant materials Nihonga employs. Yet it was not until reluctantly accompanying his new bride to church that he found the Object and Source of his longing, and this faith has become the cornerstone of his art, marriage and, indeed, entire life.
Mako’s second book, Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art and Culture (NavPress 2009), is collection of essays, thoughts, and prayers, bringing people of all backgrounds together in conversation and meditation on culture, art, and humanity.
Mako’s work is on exhibit at galleries around the world, including Sara Tecchia and Dillon Galleries (New York), Sen Gallery (Tokyo), Contemporary Museum of Tokyo, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts Museum and Oxford House, Taiku Place (Hong Kong). His acclaim as an artist has earned Mako the respect of curators and collectors, including Emmy-award winning actress Patricia Heaton, of Everybody Loves Raymond and Back to You. Mako has painted live on stage at New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall in a collaboration with composer and percussionist Susie Ibarra and the American Composer’s Orchestra, and in 2009, he addressed the Aspen Institute gathering in Colorado.
Of all of his many accomplishments in the arts world, the achievement Mako is most proud of is the growth of International Arts Movement, the non-profit arts organization he founded. In the sixteen years that IAM has been around, Mako has mentored countless young artists and has created a space for artists who are passionate about faith issues to wrestle with the hard questions they face as artists and creative catalysts. Many view the annual IAM Encounter as the only event of its kind, gathering established and emerging artists and influencers for three days in New York City, laying an invaluable philosophical and theological groundwork for facilitating discussions of art, faith and culture through lecturers (Dana Gioia, Miroslov Volf, Jeremie Begbie), workshops and innovative performances.
Mako and his wife, Judy, have three children and live in a lower Manhattan loft.