Fumie Ando, an acomplished painter, came to know Christ after experiencing catastrophic loss (Photo of Fumie)
“God is light, color is born by light.” Fumie Ando
For What and Why Do I Paint?
At home in Sapporo for the first time in years, I was intently pondering the sound of my sister playing the piano. It was an etude by Bach; it soothed and stilled my soul.
“For him, a sound is not something that disappeared into an empty sky but rises up as a dedication to God in an inexpressible praise.”
Around the end of summer l990, I came across the above written by Schweitzer in reference to Bach. This idea was something very new and interesting to me. Until then, painting had only been to me a means to affirm my existence, something that I did for my own sake. What could it mean to “not create for oneself!?” I found the idea of painting for something other than myself attractive. However, I could not imagine whom else I could paint for. After much contemplation, I dedicated my graduation work to my family, who had raised me with much love and caring.
On November I7, I990 I went to my studio as usual, but not a fragment of the studio I knew so well remained. The day my studio burned to the ground became permanently etched in my mind. I stood there, not comprehending what had happened. All the favorite tools I had used since my high school days, the pictures I had painted, the drawings, everything, had disintegrated into ashes – including my almost complete pieces for college graduation.
I wanted to go to graduate school so those pieces were very important to me. With the deadline just ahead, I lost everything. The shock despair, sorrow, and anger that I felt in my heart were something that is still beyond description today. I had no idea what I would do. The lights had gone out and I could not see a glimmer of hope. For the first time in my life, I understood the bitter reality that even things created with great effort can disappear in an instant. Everything seemed useless.
In the midst of an inexpressible feeling of emptiness and agony over which I had no control, I prayed for the first time in my life, ''God, if you are really out there, please help me.''
Eventually, with help, I managed to complete the artwork I needed to graduate and was accepted into graduate school. Yet, I felt there was something missing. One day, a Christian friend told me of a book ''The Wind Is Howling'' by Ayako Miura. I didn’t feel like reading it, but as my friend was persistent, I halfheartedly started it and quickly became engrossed. It seemed that there existed somewhere a love that was faithful and true, the very thing that l longed for. I looked all around me, yet all l saw was others who had a self-centered, superficial love. In other words, people like me.
As I finished the book, I made up my mind not to demand others' faithfulness but to become a faithful person myself. The next day, however, I made a friend of mine cry. He had been griping about his situation and wanted sympathy, which I did not give him. It was when he said, ''can't you understand?” that I realized how I had been trying to change him with my words when all he wanted was understanding. How arrogant I was. I was standing where God should be seated, and was looking down on my friend. It was then that I realized the existence of sin in my heart. I made a decision to be a faithful person one day, and judged someone the next. That was the person I really was. When I saw this reality, I felt as though I had fallen off a cliff into a bottomless hell.
The following evening, it was brought upon me to make a decision, by someone whom I could not see. A voice spoke to me in my heart, ''if you recognize your sin, and if you wish to be forgiven of your sin, stand up now, and confess your sin, and receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ.'' I had no idea what to say. The only thing that I could see was that l had tremendous sin that I couldn't bear anymore. Tears flowed. That day I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as my savior, and gave my life up to him. From that day on, my life changed dramatically.
"Vestiges" by Fumie Ando:
"My Cross" by Fumie Ando: Tempera paint on drift wood, with soil from the artist's garden. "This art piece symbolizes my cross from God. My life is like a piece of drift wood, it is useless. But, when the blood of Jesus covers me, I receive new life and become useful. Jesus saves and calls us to carry our cross as Jesus did."
Fumie Ando has held exhibitions at numerous galleries across Japan and continues to paint, teach, and quietly witness to her not-yet-Christian artist friends in Sapporo, Japan. She is involved with a dynamic group of artistic Christians called IAM (International Arts Movement). The IAM web site URL: www.iamny.org