New Wine: The Art of Makoto Fujimura
Note: This short article is in promotion of our front cover for the Spring 2019 issue. Makoto Fujimura was kind enough to give us a work of his to use on our front cover.
On the front cover of this issue we are honored to be featuring a Makoto Fujimura original, New Wine. About the artist:
Makoto Fujimura, the director of Culture Care Initiative at Fuller Seminary'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 of Religion named Makoto Fujimura as its “2014 Religion and the Arts” award recipient. He has had numerous museum exhibits including Tikotin Museum in Israel and the upcoming Gonzaga Museum. New York's Waterfall Mansion Gallery and Taipei's Artrue Gallery have had regular exhibits of his work.
Makoto Fujimura is a highly accomplished artist with a keen eye towards faith. When we approached Fujimura about featuring a work of his on our cover he specifically selected New Wine after viewing other copies of Lutheran Forum. He also chose this piece to put an emphasis on this being our spring issue which coincides with the end of Lent and the beginning of the Easter season. You may view prints of the piece here in support of Fujimura’s work: https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-New-Wine/890479/4804018/view.
The piece itself came together during a live performance at his studio in Pasadena, California. Fujimura painted as a jazz pianist played in the background. He says he draws inspiration based on the first note played, and he emphasizes that there were no rehearsals prior to the performance. At the live performance Fujimura said, “In neuropsychology something happens in the zone of creativity and imagination that music and art can bring, you are creating when you respond to that.” You may view the video of the performance on Makoto Fujimura’s youtube page: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZGhxCzYlEw&feature=youtu.be).
The intersection between creation and redemption permeates all of Fujimura’s work and New Wine is no different. While the title is initially spurred on by an experience of drinking new wine it is hard for a theologian to displace the Christocentric theme. In Luke’s gospel Jesus’s words about new wine in fresh wine skins comes in the middle of a point he makes regarding fasting. Immediately following this Jesus discloses that he is the Lord of the Sabbath. In other words, “Fasting and bodily preparation is, indeed, a fine outward training; but he is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins.”  The key to fasting is the crucified Christ. The key to sabbath rest is the crucified Christ. This new wine is the glory of Christ.
We also know that, ordinarily, new wine is not a good thing. Wine takes time to mature and taste its best. But our Lord saw to it that his first miracle would be turning water into new wine. The wedding guests were astounded at the quality of this wine, both new and served late in the festivities. And the evangelist records for us that this the first of his miracles “manifested his glory” (John 2:11). A new wine theme is well placed during Lent and Easter. In Lent we participate in fasting to shed the old in anticipation of the new, and in Easter we feast for the bridegroom is among us. Miraculously, the wine of his new creation is mature beyond its years the moment it is poured. In the life of the church we are always having the cup poured out for us.
Take note of the colors in Fujimura’s piece. Green and blue bring to mind creation, the green of the earth and the blue of the oceans. And the red reminds us of the new creation. The blood of Christ is poured out for the creation and it stands out to bring renewal to all things. Prior to his performance of New Wine Fujimura notes that when he hears certain pianists and percussionists play he sees color. For us with Christ it is no different. When we hear Jesus we see color, and in that color we see the life of the new world.
 See the citation at http://bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php#sacrament