Creative Catalysts Help Create Beauty in Our Workplaces

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
Makoto Fujimura by Bjorn Amundsen 480x300

Over twenty years ago, when I founded International Arts Movement (IAM), I wanted to help nurture a cultural movement toward the integration of faith, art and culture. Initially, I set out to create a connection with artists, musicians, and other artists. I was seeking the highest standard of excellence, with a high level of inquiry toward theological integration. Almost immediately, I began to realize that such a cultural movement, what I call Culture Care, cannot be accomplished with artists alone. We needed, I discovered, to partner with non-artists who care about culture; individuals we began to call creative catalysts.

At IAM, several creative catalysts serve on our board. They are a CEO, a CFO, an attorney, a business professor, and a pastor. Together, we have learned that such a creative journey can marry business discipline and social networking with artistic expression. In short, what we discovered is a need for the combination of financial, social, and creative capitals to create a true movement toward beauty.

When folks inquire about how they might be part of a movement of creatives in their regions, I encourage them to find a group of three, representing these sectors. So, for instance, if the person is an artist (creative capital), then I encourage her to find two other leaders that she can work with, perhaps a pastor (social capital) and a business leader (financial capital). I tell them that if you have two out of three, the activities may become sustainable; but if you have all three, that can become a movement.

In our pragmatism, beauty and art have been exiled to the peripheral realities of our culture and our business environments. Yet, human beings cannot live for a long time in a place bereft of beauty. We hunger for beauty if we are robbed of it.

What I mean by beauty is not in the cosmetic, superficial form of attraction, but the depth of beauty that all human beings need, as true beauty nurtures our deepest longings.

That beauty, I believe, flows out of love. If love is indeed the “bottom line” of everything against which we are to measure our success (as exhorted to us by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13), then beauty is that quality of being to which such love gives birth.

As an artist, whose training is to be aware of such beauty and express it by incarnating this beauty through materials such as azurite, malachite, gold and platinum, I have come to a realization that such beauty — both created and exhibited — is a work of love.

Love is our only enduring ontology, beauty her aroma.

Creative catalysts are a group of people who do not think of themselves as artists, but are nevertheless committed, as much as artists, to bringing beauty back into the main stage of our lives and our businesses. Such work is never easy; the grey clouds of utilitarian pragmatism hover over all of us. But, when we are able to persevere to see beauty manifested, the experience of the beautiful will remain etched in our lives, and even if all else disappears, we will remain, lovelier.

Makoto Fujimura is an artist, writer, and speaker, 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. Learn more about Makoto's experience of discovering his own need for beauty, here.

Creating Beauty at Work

This article is part of The High Calling series, Creating Beauty at Work. While brightly painted walls or sleek, modern furniture might lighten our mood and inspire creativity, investing in the people we work with, helping them to bring the best of who they are and caring about them even when they can’t, is at the heart of a beautiful workplace. Are you or someone you know feeling a little lackluster about your work environment? Before you buy a new framed print for the wall, try complimenting your cubicle mate or saying thank you to the janitor. Or start a conversation with a coworker by emailing or sharing one of the articles in our series.