In keeping with the SLOW trend I recently saw a facebook post on Joe Mangrum, a New York artist and alumnus of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has created a Kick Start program to raise money to bring his temporary street installations of sand mandalas (a slow and patient art form ) to a wider audience through large scale photography. Since his mandala installations are large, this seems only logical to me. With his kickstart program he hopes to raise $8,450 to purchase a wide angle lens and printer that will allow him to blow his images up in fine detail to the size of a bill board! I say, go Joe. His sand art is stunningly beautiful and while I appreciate the “impermanence” reference to life in sand art, I would love to be able to study these intricate, colorful and simply beautiful shapes over a period of time. Being able to take photographs of his work would allow this to happen.
Because of my yoga background and meditation practice I have always had a fascination with mandalas, and the sand mandalas often found at the entry of sacred places around the world, in particular. The word “mandala” is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit. Loosely translated to mean “circle,” a mandala is far more than a simple shape. It represents wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself–a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds. The mandala pattern is used in many religious traditions. Hildegard von Bingen, a Christian nun in the 12th century, created many beautiful mandalas to express her visions and beliefs. In the Americas, Indians have created medicine wheels and sand mandalas. Tibetan Monks often create mandalas that are highly intricate illustrations of religious significance, and that are used for meditation. Both Navajo Indians and Tibetan monks create sand mandalas to demonstrate the impermanence of life. In ancient Tibet, as part of a spiritual practice, monks created their mandalas with colored sand made of crushed semiprecious stones. The tradition continues to this day as the monks travel to different cultures around the world to create sand mandalas and educate people about the culture of Tibet.
The creation of a sand mandala requires many hours and days to complete. Each mandala contains many symbols that must be perfectly reproduced each time the mandala is created. When finished, the monks gather in a colorful ceremony, chanting in deep tones as they sweep their mandala into a jar and empty it into a nearby body of water as a blessing. This action also symbolizes the cycle of life. Joe’s sand art mandalas are both spiritual and psychedelic at the same time. I invite you to take a look at a speed film of just one of his installations. The patience, time and artistry that goes into each and every one is mind blowing. They are definitely Little Bits of Beauty™
…check out his kickstarter program and perhaps help him to bring his art to a new form!
The video below is short and definitely worth the watch…go Joe!