April 26, 2011: Makoto Fujimura, one of the world most significant visual artists and influential leaders in the arts, will be the commencement speaker for Belhaven University graduation ceremony on the Jackson campus, April 30. Fujimura is an artist, writer and speaker recognized worldwide as a cultural influencer by both faith-based and secular media.

Fujimura was a Presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts (2003-2009) and has contributed internationally as an advocate for the arts, speaking with decision makers and advising governmental policies on the arts.

Bob Pennebaker, Chair of the Visual Arts Department, says “Belhaven is honored to have Fujimura visit the Belhaven Jackson campus. Fujimura is one of the most important contemporary artists, he is held in high regard as a practicing painter who advocates the connectivity between art and faith in Christ.”

The International Arts Movement (IAM) is one of Fujimura’s creations that he considers his greatest achievement. IAM is a non-profit arts organization created by Fujimura to influence and mentor current or beginning artist about matters of faith and art.

Fujimura’s work is exhibited at galleries around the world, including Dillon Gallery (New York), Sen Gallery (Tokyo), The Contemporary Museum of Tokyo, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts Museum and Oxford House, Taiku Place (Hong Kong). He has painted live on stage at New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall as part of an ongoing collaboration with composer and percussionist Susie Ibarra and the American Composer’s Orchestra.

A popular speaker, Fujimura has lectured at numerous conferences and universities, including the Aspen Institute, Yale, Princeton, the Q Conference, and IAM’s Encounter 10. Fujimura’s essays and books have expanded the dialogue about faith, art and culture. His first book, River Grace, is an intimate, autobiographical look at his early years as an artist in Japan. Fujimura’s second book, Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art and Culture, is a collection of essays bringing people of all backgrounds together in conversation and meditation on culture, art and humanity. He is currently exhibiting The Four Holy Gospels which he created in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

Fujimura will be awarded an honorary doctorate for his significant work and leadership in the arts. Fujimura’s contributions to the art world will continue to amaze, inspire, and challenge how we view art and faith.

Belhaven University is one of only 30 schools in America accredited in all four areas of art: music, theatre, dance and visual art. Belhaven is the only evangelical university working at the highest level in the arts.