The Way I See It

The Mandala Series: A Peaceful Center in a World Gone Mad

Mandalas have fascinated me for a very long time. It coincided with dreamwork and my study of Jungian symbols (of which mandalas play a primary role) and the vast richness that transpersonal psychology holds. According to Jung in Memories, Dreams and Reflections:

“The mandala is an archetypal image whose occurrence is attested throughout the ages. It signifies the wholeness of the Self. This circular image represents the wholeness of the psychic ground or, to put it in mythic terms, the divinity incarnate in man.”

In the late 80’s I made a few colorful mandalas using watercolors but have no idea where they are now–probably hidden away in a drawer of my flat files where they shall forever remain.

Then in 1992 I was fortunate to watch Tibetan monks create a beautiful sand mandala for close to a week at The Frick Pittsburgh. The monks created a Chenrezig Mandala which is a manifestation of compassion and was meant to be viewed as an architectural plan or structure. I brought my sketchbook and made a few quick studies of the designs but (sadly) I don’t think I took photos. It was pre-digital cameras–and cell phones were just phones.

Study of Tibetan sand painting mandala; sketchbook page; 1992

I went almost every day they were there. One day they permitted me to try using their tools and colored sand. As can be expected, it was much harder than I thought to get the sand to fall evenly in the designated area. Have a look at these beautiful photos of a Chenrezig Mandala–this mandala was created in Salisbury, England in 2013 is very similar to the mandala I saw being created.

Jumping to the present day, I wanted to create circular patterns based on my own version of repeating patterns within a circular (mandala) form. I sought to make a mandala based on quadrants but bisecting those 4 quadrants into 8 separate spokes to form a more complicated pattern. Are these mandalas representations of my inner self? I really don’t know, but I do think they are my attempt to create a sense of wholeness and a place where I can feel a peaceful center in a world gone totally mad.

Here are the first 2 mandalas (with detail shots) in this new series. Hopefully the third mandala will be finished today–there are at least a dozen more ideas ready and waiting in the wings.

Mandala 1 (Ribbonesque); Graphite on paper; 22 x 22 inches; 2018

Mandala 1 (Ribbonesque) detail; Graphite on paper; 22 x 22 inches; 2018

Mandala 2 (leaf); Graphite on paper; 22 x 22 inches; 2018

Mandala 2 (leaf) detail; Graphite on paper; 22 x 22 inches; 2018

Now completed–the third one!

Mandala 3 (Nest); Graphite on paper; 22 x 22 inches; 2018

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