When I was in kindergarten, I got flack from an assistant teacher because I always printed my name in caps, drew a circle around it and lightly shaded it in. This particular teacher worried me. Other than the Barney Fife’s girlfriend’s hairdo perched high on her head, she looked and acted like she enjoyed pinning male walruses to the ground. 

In fourth grade. my hair was long enough to be in my eyes. My fourth-grade teacher did not like that. One afternoon after recess, she had us draw African masks and color them in. I went outside the lines and put two big old goat horns on either side of my mask. I think she was Christian because her hair was really big and woven, and when she confronted me about the goat horns her jaw clenched.

Painting: Makoto Fujimura,  Charis Kairos  (The Tears of Christ), 2014

Painting: Makoto Fujimura, Charis Kairos (The Tears of Christ), 2014


Art in ancient Egypt was uniform, sometimes for thousands of years. This was the art of the state. The gods and the pharaohs decreed and commissioned all of those little-sculptured people with their hands, heads, and legs at those perfect angles. Not being an Egyptologist or even an art historian, what I understand is that not even one individual sweaty artist was allowed to transgress the rules. The goal was not self-reflection and creativity. The goal was the continuation of the Pharaoh in the afterlife. 

As with everything we declare to be sacred, God has a way of breaking those idols down.

“Humans are not God’s puppets in the creation of culture; it is their work and their responsibility, in which they exercise the freedom of the children of God,” writes William A. Dyrness, author of Insider Jesus.

So I ask myself, does God really allow us to have creative freedom? Can we color outside the lines? What about transgressions?

"Art is always transgressive. We need to transgress in love. We, today, have a language to celebrate waywardness, but we do not have a cultural language to bring people back home." ~ Makoto Fujimura