Friday, April 3, 2009
Sand Mandala for a Sad Day
Today there was a horrible loss of life in our hometown. Fourteen people were killed at the ACA. The American Civic Association here "...Assists immigrants and refugees with immigration and personal counseling, resettlement, citizenship, family reunification, interpreters, and translators....and fosters cross cultural understanding for the entire community." My past experience as a teaching artist in the local museum included many multicultural initiatives which required doing research with The American Civic Association and The Refugee Assistance Center. One of which, was work on an exhibit called Refuge: The Newest New Yorkers "in response to increasing resettlement of international refugees in New York state, the Roberson Museum and Science Center in Binghamton mounted an exhibition entitled Refuge: The Newest New Yorkers. The show of documentary photographs by Mel Rosenthal featured recent refugee immigrants from Bosnia, Somalia, Cuba, Tibet and other countries. To help student visitors see beyond the "otherness" of the images to universal human experience, the museum's education staff designed a gallery walk on the theme of forced change".
( Teaching Tolerance magazine) One of the activities I designed was a mandala activity for students in school groups and the general public. A large sand mandala (for Peace) was to be constructed by Tibetan monks in the gallery. Research was done in Ithaca at the Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, NY. It was an amazing experience for me to work so closely with the monks. The mandalas pictured here were made by children in my art classes and by art therapists at a conference at Marywood University where I gave a presentation. You can learn more about Tibetan sand mandalas here. What I came to realize was that Tibetan sand mandalas are sacred art...they are like prayers and blessings. The doing of them, is a cooperative activity (traditionally 5-6 monks work on a mandala together) and the dispersal of them into bodies of water sends the "wishes or blessings" out into the world. What a beautiful idea.....maybe I will make a mandala for this sad day.