Event Name

Silence, Suffering, and the Way of Beauty


Event Location

Hall of Flags, Houston Hall, University of Pennsylvania


Start Date and Time:

Thursday, April 11, 2019 at 7 PM


End Date and Time

Thursday, April 11, 2019 at 830 PM


Event Description

The Collegium Institute presents: Silence, Suffering and the Way of

Beauty: An Evening Conversation with Makoto Fujimura.


“I write this in my red barn studio…The nihonga process, which flows out of a thousand-year refinement, overlaps as a metaphor for the journey of faith that is refining me. Malachite and azurite are strikingly beautiful in the form of rock, but to use them for nihonga one must pulverize them, shatter them into small, prismatic pieces.

They are to be layered, sometimes over sixty layers, to create a refractive surface. It is a laborious, slow process — I like to call nihonga ‘slow art.’ The layers take time to dry, and in the act of waiting an image is revealed.”


Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel Silence — a narrative of suffering, religious persecution and divine silence set in 17th century Japan — took visual artist Makoto Fujimura on a pilgrimage of grappling with the nature of art, the significance of pain, and his own cultural heritage. His artistic faith journey overlaps with Endo’s as he uncovers deep layers of meaning in Japanese history and literature, expressed in art both past and present. Fujimura, much like Endo, feels caught between two worlds, East and West, conversant with both, though not fully at home in either. Beauty and death, honor and shame, pain and stoicism, ritualism and disbelief — Fujimura has lived with these ambiguous Japanese pairings and his work seeks to untangle them.

Melding the ancient nihonga technique with his preferred medium of abstract expressionism, Fujimura believes that art can heal as well as disturb, and he refuses to abandon the ideal of beauty. Ultimately he seeks to find connections to how faith is lived amid trauma and glimpses of how the gospel is conveyed in Christ-hidden cultures.


This event is co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania’s Year of Why and Christian Union.


Reception to follow.


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