Tag Archives: seriousarthappens

Trash Mandala

ready to begin

ready to begin

I’ve started yet another community art project.  This one is a mandala created out of colorful trash, all cut into hexagons and left for people to glue together.  It’s again at the amazing local coffee shop, where the regulars are generally open to making art projects.

two days of participation

two days of participation

Here’s the idea behind it:

Mandala (Sanskrit: मण्डल Maṇḍala, ‘circle’) is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the Universe. The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the general shape of a T. Mandalas often exhibit radial balance.[1]

Why trash?

Consumption is inherent in living. The result being that while fulfilling our needs we create a nearly unavoidable byproduct – trash. This trash surrounds our lives, is necessary to our lives, and while tossed aside, can represent our lives lived. It is inevitable that trash will be created and will continue to exist beyond our lifespans. Our trash today will continue on past the lives of our children and their children, becoming a representative of ourselves – an immortality through what we discarded in order to live.

This idea is created literally through the mandala and the trash together – symbolically combining us with the universe.

I took a large piece of unstretched canvas – 5 feet square, and sketched a basic outline of a mandala.  I then used washes of color to indicate the areas where trash should be placed.  I also made a great origami lotus for the center using this tutorial:




There are many layers of meaning within the mandala, all the shapes and colors have a purpose.  My resources for these include:



[3] silkmandala.com

And for reference here:

Colors in a Mandala


Direction: East

Element: Water

Emotion: Anger that can transform into reflecting all appearance in perfect symmetry.


Direction: South

Element: Earth

Emotion: Pride and ego that can transform into recognizing the humanity we all share.


Direction: West

Element: Fire

Emotion: Desire, lust, and greed that can transform into compassion


Direction: North

Element: Wind

Emotion: Jealousy that can be transformed into all-accomplishing action


Element: Space

Emotion: Ignorance that can transform into wisdom and intelligence[2]

in progress

in progress

Different Shapes in Mandalas

Dot: everything is one, symbol of the Unmanifested

Circle: wholeness, integrity, unity

Horizontal line: divides up from down, the earth and the sky. Maternal energy.

Vertical line: connection between worlds, energy. Divides right and left.

Cross: two lines meet and form a centre. Recognition.

Triangle with the vertex pointed upwards: aspiration, energies pointing upwards, in the direction of the spiritual sphere

Triangle with vertex pointed downwards: aspirations towards the earthly, material sphere

Hexagon, created from the above-mentioned triangles: unity spiritual and material aspirations

Square: our existence in the material world

Circle and square together: implementation of the spirit in the material[3]

So far it’s going well and looking lovely, I think!  I really can’t wait to see it finished!

two days of participation

two days of participation


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Serious Sketchbook Happens

encouragement included

encouragement included

As I continue to explore the options of community and public art I happened to think of the idea of a community/shared sketchbook.  I have some wonderful friends at the local coffee shop that agreed to host the book and my hope is that people will use it to create and share images.  My fear is that it will become a trash heap of vulgarity…but I suppose even that would be a meaningful statement in its own way. What I really want is a retrospective of sketches from our community, and a kind of analog version of shared blog, if you think of it in the way that sketches are generally rather private and this will be public, just as blogs are kind of public diaries.

If this happens to work in this way I have another similar experiment I’d like to move on to that might be just as fun.

Encouraging words on the cover from Crass, and prettified by me.


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serious art happens

Public art for free.  Something I’d been deciding on for ages and waiting for a project that would speak to me.  It ended up being these small paper mache birds.  I just started one day to make them while trying to find a way to combine art with reuse.  Many newspapers became these birds and I adore the idea that all the terrible things that happen in this world can be so easily become an object of delight.

paper mache birds, in the beginning

paper mache birds, in the beginning

So plain paper mache became spray painted birds because logistically, leaving them out in the world to be found would mean they would have to be able to stand some weather.

and flocking together in the studio

and flocking together in the studio

set out in the world to be found

set out in the world to be found

On new year’s day I went out and put six all around town to be found, as a small test run.

typing up the tags

typing up the tags

They all have tags indicating they are free to take and hopefully, to share pictures of it wherever it’s new home becomes.

I made probably 40 of them

I made probably 40 of them

So there’s still lots to put out and I may just wait for warmer weather.  But who knows?  Sometimes the monotony of winter needs surprises more than the spring and summer.  Either way, I have plenty and plan to give them all out in the near future.


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