The mandala was originally a spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions representing the universe. The word means ‘circle’ in the Sanskrit language and is used to remind us of our relationship to infinity. It has since been incorporated into almost all religious and secular imagery in one form or another but still carries some of the same symbolism. This exhibition explores the mandala form in four distinct mediums which are designed to consider and take the viewer to that ‘still place’ at the center of experience. I am using circular and square interpretations following a similar line of inquiry throughout.
The photo montages, created after a trip to China, began as an idea of a way to consider a pervasive, circular continuity as exemplified in nature. In the center of the paper pieces I have incorporated small papers distributed in the temples which are burned, the smoke of which would carry prayers to loved ones. I thought of them as small prayers in themselves, carrying my thoughts to another realm.
In the second group, continuing with the focus on the center (as ‘still place’ or other realm), I dyed fabrics and, using piecework and stitching, examined the journey to a central focal point considering also the Japanese mandalas as suggested in some traditional quilting patterns.
The third group was created primarily in the medium most familiar to me – oil paint. I created square paintings going back to the idea of nature as a vehicle to that ‘still place ’including a button mandala form inset into the center of the piece. I felt that the buttons created a kind of sparkling, other worldliness akin, again, to the ‘other’.
Finally, the shawl – type vestment created from fabrics donated by the congregation of St. Paul’s as a spiritually unifying symbol. Inspired by the Japanese priest surplice known as ‘funzoe’ (rag patchwork) made from scraps of old clothes donated by the parishioners. The monks would gather and layer the fabrics covering them with stitchwork symbolizing both the elevation of the common materials and the interconnectedness of all human beings. My interpretation features ten small mandalas and uses bits of all the various fabrics donated.