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Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  396 ratings  ·  47 reviews
A collection of essays, thoughts, and prayers from award-winning artist Makoto Fujimura, Refractions brings people of all backgrounds together in conversation and meditation on culture, art, and humanity.

Paperback, 176 pages
Published February 1st 2009 by NavPress
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 ·  396 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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Cindy Rollins
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 20for2020reads, 2020
#20for2020reads Book of Essays

I finished this book with tears in my eyes. The last few chapters touched my deeply as a mother, from Jane Jacobs' fight for 'neighborhood' to Chrisy De'on Miller's anguished lament for her lost soldier son, Adam. Rachael weeping for her children, the basis of much that we call art.

I was also blown away by Fujimura's concept of understanding as illustrated in his chapter on The Last Supper by Da Vinci. Understanding is literally standing unde
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this. I set it as my "Sunday book" that I saved and savored on the Lord's Day. I'm glad I did so.

Makoto Fujimura has written a brilliant book of essays about the intersection of faith art and culture (no commas, on purpose). These essays begin with September 11 and finalize with considering the published writings of those who experienced the Iraq and Afghan war(s) in the aftermath of those attacks.

At first, while I enjoyed each individual essay, I didn't have the view of how ever
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, culture
A quote from Makoto Fujimura:
"Beauty often resides in the peripheries of our lives."

This was a meditative book written by an artist whose studio was just blocks away from the twin towers that were toppled during the 9/11 attack. The trauma of that event could have discouraged any sensitive soul from persevering in the work, but the hideous destruction served in this case to solidify and fan the flames of the higher call to create.

Makoto Fujimura is unabashedly Christian in his view of culture,
Alexis Johnson
Fujimura's books have changed my life, and were it not for his calm comprehension and reflection, I would have totally lost my mind this year. His understanding of art and the global cultural need is unprecedented--at least from my perspective. I am very grateful for his work and I hope some day I can tell him that in person.
Becky Pliego
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very good. I knew, from other articles he has written elsewhere, that I was not going to agree with everything he had to say, but I am grateful for the things he has to say that are biblical and relevant.

Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology, non-fiction
A lovely collection of short essays (reworked from blog posts) and art. Lots of food for thought on art, culture, parenting, living in the city and faith. (8/10)
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-books
Profound, thoughtful words that need to be heard by all Christians in our divided, violent, screaming culture. So many gems that I know I'll need to re-read this one, and I know I'll find fresh insight.
Amy Neftzger
Feb 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a nice read for artists or anyone interested in the arts or how creativity can impact culture. The book is a series of short nonfiction pieces on different topics. Depending upon your stage in life, this book may have a more (or less) powerful impact on you, and each chapter may have a different level of impact because each is unique. The author makes some wonderful points and brings perspective to some of life's most painful moments and how art can be a part of the healing process.
Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
A personal memoir (written as blog posts and later compiled) in which he reflects on an artist's calling in our current culture/world. Inspiring, reaffirming, helpful, and thought-provoking. Would recommend for "broken, brutally honest, creative ... canaries in the cultural mines" -- one of many ways he referred to "artists" in this book. :)
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Makoto Fujimura is one of the very few Christian artists alive today who seem able to live out their faith without sacrificing the honesty of their work. 'Refractions' is a beautiful, rambling collection of essays on topics as diverse -- yet somehow related -- as 9/11, Japanese aesthetics, and Finding Neverland.
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
What a thoughtful book. I'm currently reading a chapter of Romans and a chapter of this book each morning. As Paul lays out justification by faith, it's a nice contrast to read Mako's reflective book on art and faith and the revelation of God that is all around us if we take time to notice.
Jul 28, 2012 added it
I've been using this book as part of my morning time with God. I love Fujimura's thoughts on God and the creative life. His outlook is refreshing and offers expansive ways of considering life with God.
Molly Miltenberger
Jun 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: creativity
I love his blog posts... I think this was a little too scattered.
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
The reader's first impression of this book will certainly come from its presentation. The publisher (NavPress) spared no thought in creating a beautiful over sized quality paperback with color reproductions of the author's and other artist's work. I was drawn first to thumb through the book, taking glimpses or tastes of the book before ever sitting down to read it.

Fujimura is an American artist using Japanese-style painting, honored in Japan and the US. In 1992 he was the youngest artist to have
Mark Oppenlander
This book is a collection of essays from visual artist Makoto Fujimura. They were originally published as a series of blog posts and in various print and on-line publications. As a Japanese-American, a Christian, an artist and a survivor of the 9/11 attacks (his family lived a few blocks from Ground Zero), Fujimura's topics include art, faith, culture, violent conflict in our world and more.

I enjoyed this book. Fujimura has a gentle and humble writing style that takes a meandering path through h
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"The church needs to be involved in the arts and even advocate for those outside of faith, precisely because God has poured his grace in all of creation, and every artist, consciously or not, taps into the 'groaning' of the Spirit."

This beautiful book is a collection of profound and thought-provoking essays about art and faith. Author Makoto Fujimura is an incredible artist and his perspective on the mingling of art and faith is especially compelling. Throughout the book, he discusses the use o
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First off, the literal book is exquisite. Beautiful paper, illustrations, incredible design.

These are a series of short essays that cover a variety of topics, but mostly about art and how art can have the power to help save and redeem our culture.

He makes many lovely points, he quotes great sources, and reading his essays give me hope for Christianity and art.

He embraces Christianity in a way that speaks to me: through love, patience, understanding of others, and respect for pluralism. He is
I found this book in the “FREE” bin at the public library. What a find! I read one of Fujimura’s books last year (based off of a review I read on a blog) and enjoyed the book. I figured I would like this one too.

Refractions is a memoir (really a collection of blog posts and essays). Most of it is concerned with New York City immediately following 9/11. Fujimura deals with faith, art, culture, politics, violence, education, and various other social issues.

If for some reason I ever teach a humani
Tamara Murphy
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
Makoto Fujimura is a breath of fresh air wherever he goes in the world and this collection of essays is no different. Beginning with his experience living a few blocks from the towers that fell on September 11 and including his trips to his beloved, yet scarred Japan, Mako Fujimura’s words and perspective in these essays are another gift. This is the kind of book I’ll keep handy to read and re-read as an encouragement to see and make beauty rather than despair at the world’s turbulence and chaos ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So, so much to digest from these essays. One one hand, the mind & outlook of an artist is on display through life's mile markers, including death, catastrophe, and the arrival of children into adulthood.

On the other hand, the concepts behind various presentations & creators are called into question. Toward the artists, the passages are judgment free, yet there are multiple calls to action steered toward the reader.

Certainly a volume that demands repeated visits!
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a series of essays written by artist Makoto Fujimura that he wrote in wake of the September 11 attacks. The essays look at life, art, trying to navigate a world that is no longer safe and culture.
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A powerful collection of essays wrestling with what it means to be an artist in today's culture and the redemptive power of art as a way to steward culture in a fallen world. Highly recommended for any artist searching for a deeper understanding - and theology - of creative work.
Bethany Seabolt
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Can’t finish. I’m 50% through. Gorgeous publication and there are a handful of good, new points made, but in every essay, he drops not-so-subtle brags about this or that honor or connection, often where they are not relevant to his point. At this point it has become tedious and distracting.
Joshua VanCleave
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very contemplative collage of vignettes concerning the relationship between the arts and the Christian faith. Makoto Fujimura is no stranger to both, and this book is a great resource to anyone who wants to go deeper with the relationship between these two subjects.
Maria Copeland
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A book equally beautiful in writing and design. I don't necessarily hold to everything Makoto Fujimura does, but I do admire his vision for the meeting of faith, art, and culture; and these essays are the sort I would like to be capable of writing someday.
Robert Durough, Jr.
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Robert by: Makoto Fujimura
If you don’t know Makoto Fujimura, you should. Until recently, I didn’t even know of his existence; however, that all changed when a fellow scholar, art enthusiast, and friend, Jeremy McGinniss, invited me to join him and his students to a joint art lecture/presentation of “Qu4rtets” by painters Makoto Fujimura and Bruce Herman. It was a small, intimate setting, rather informal, and quite open to dialogue—not just Q&A. I felt an immediate connection to Fujimura as he spoke of culture and the Kin ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have this goal of reading all my books. I picked up this one because it looked short, but it ended up taking me a long time to read. It is a collection of short essays. I would read one and then I would have to prayer and reflect for a long time on what I just read. Eventually I find myself reading as slowly as I could just so I could soak it all in. The book centered on the Gospel, the arts, or individual and collective trauma, and the intersection of each. Great thoughts. I'm going to pass t ...more
Derek Emerson
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Makoto Fujimura is one of those rare animals — a Christian and an artist thriving in the secular world while holding firm to his faith. Born in Boston and trained in the United States, he received his MFA from Tokyo National University as a scholar in Nihonga, a Japanese-style of painting. His excellent work there earned him a chance to be the first non-Japanese citizen to take part in their lineage program. While studying, he became a committed Christian, which changed his direction in life and ...more
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Makoto Fujimura was appointed by President Bush in 2003 to the National Council on The Arts. He is a visual artist who works with light, prism and minerals to create refractions of art. After reading refractions, I am fully convinced of Fujimura’s ability as an artist and am certain of his dedication to art.

This book was a remarkable look into a creative mind that longs to capture the attention of the world through art, and yet bring glory to God.

Every chapter (or essay) reads like a devotion. I
May 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: art, christian
I wanted to like this book—I really did. The book’s subtitle indicates a promising combination of faith, art, and culture. Though this series of blog postings indeed focuses on the intersection of all three, it simply bored me. The writing exudes grace and the visual artwork intrigues, but felt largely bland. I was expecting the author to be sort of like Henri Nouwen (if he had been a Japanese-American visual artist), or this work to be a more contemporary version of Madeline L’Engle’s Walking o ...more
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Makoto Fujimura, recently appointed Director of Fuller's Brehm Center, is an artist, writer, and speaker who is recognized worldwide as a cultural shaper. 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. In 2014, the American Academy o ...more

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