Broken pieces of ceramic and clay strewn across a table. To some, the scene may look like nothing but a mess to be swept up and thrown away. But to a kintsugi maker, a broken vessel is seen as an opportunity to make something entirely new, something good and beautiful, out of brokenness.
This is the perspective of Academy Kintsugi, a program of Culture Care Creative, co-founded by 2023 Kuyper Prize winner Makoto Fujimura and his wife, lawyer and entrepreneur Haejin Shim Fujimura. The husband and wife team were at Redeemer this past May for the 2023 Kuyper Conference. Fujimura presented the annual Kuyper lecture on Kintsugi Grace and accepted the 2023 Kuyper Prize, given by Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary, at the Wednesday evening keynote.
Academy Kintsugi states, “Kintsugi makers do not hide the fracture of the past; rather, they mend it to make New. Every fracture is an opportunity to make into the New. In this regard, Kintsugi is applicable from a broken tea ware to a fractured relationship to a victim of violence to a historical conflict zone.”
Kintsugi makers do not hide the fracture of the past; rather, they mend it to make New.
The theme of the conference, Kuyper and Kintsugi, explored the intersection of Abraham Kuyper’s theology and the Reformed symbolism found in kintsugi. The conference lineup included plenary sessions with Haejin Shim Fujimura on Beauty and Justice: A Path into New Creation, Dr. John Stackhouse on Where Have you Gone, Abraham Kuyper? Public Theology for Different Publics and Dr. Vincent Bacote on Sealing Cracks: A Neo-Kuyperian Healing Process. Academic papers were presented by over 40 scholars from around the world. A number of Kintsugi Experience sessions were also offered, allowing participants to create something new from something broken using the art of kintsugi.
Fujimura’s art was exhibited in the Redeemer University Art Gallery throughout the summer in an exhibition titled Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. The exhibition brought together 13 paintings, each made using Fujimura’s distinctive integration of gestural abstraction and traditional Japanese Nihonga processes. The fragility and mineral beauty of Nihonga rewards close, contemplative viewing. The pulverized minerals of Nihonga (gold, silver, platinum, oyster shell, azurite, malachite, vermilion, cinnabar) refract light in ways not captured by photography. Fujimura notes that “if the viewers slow down to gaze upon them, their eyes will find healing and hope in the refracted light. My paintings are created to, in a literal sense, refract the Rainbows for the fallen world (quoting Calvin Seerveld).”
During one conference plenary session, delegates heard from a number of different voices recognizing the distinct contribution of one of Redeemer’s emeritus faculty members: Dr. Albert M. Wolters. Wolters was awarded the inaugural Reformation Legacy Award.
Wolters represents not only an important early faculty member of Redeemer but also a key figure in Reformed Christian scholarship around the globe. Much of his renown resulted after the publishing of his book Creation Regained, which clearly and succinctly explains the Reformed Christian worldview. Based on a series of lectures Wolters gave in the early 1980s at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, Creation Regained has been in print for 38 years, has been translated into 12 languages and is available at Redeemer’s bookstore, 21Five.
Dr. Jessica Joustra, director of the Albert M. Wolters Centre for Christian Scholarship, stated, “When I think of Dr. Wolters’ work and impact for the Reformed tradition, I can’t help but think of one of Kuyper’s claims from his Stone Lectures, about the task of stewarding the Reformed Christian tradition in his time and for the times to come. Kuyper wrote that the task ahead of him—and us, as those to whom these insights about God, his word, and his word have come—is:
‘…not to copy the past, as if Calvinism were a petrifaction, but to go back to the living root of the Calvinist plant, to clean and to water it, and so to cause it to bud and to blossom once more, now fully in accordance with our actual life in these modern times, and with the demands of the times to come.’”
Four international scholars, including Redeemer president emeritus Dr. Justin Cooper, participated in a panel to help celebrate the work and witness of Wolters and invited delegates to continue that project of stewarding these gifts and insights.