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A Community Mandala Made of Chalk

Creative Action Students Work With Artist Gary Palmer

Lecturer Elektra Grant, along with students in her Human Ecology class, participated in the creation of a community mandala under the direction of artist Gary Palmer. A painter and celebrated chalk artist, Palmer's Circle Around the World project brings the technique of chalk art and the history of the mandala together as a catalyst for social change.

"The purpose of the mandalas is to create a focal point for creative workshops, storytelling, discussion, and meditations," states Palmer on the project website. "Growing up in Belfast during the troubles I came to realize art could be a powerful medium for conflict resolution in divided communities."

Otis College students and community members created the chalk mandala in a paved courtyard in The Learning Garden at Venice High School. 'Mandala', the Sanskrit word meaning 'circle,' is an important aspect of Indian and Tibetan traditions and imagery associated with mandalas often represent the universe and the organic world. The ephemeral aspect of the work speaks about the philosophy associated with impermanence, reflecting the life cycles of nature. Within the image itself plants branches and leaves were incorporated into the design to refer to the relationship of the individual to society as a whole. 

Images: Allison Knight