Flower Mandalas

Flower Mandalas

Spirituality and Art / Spiritual Art

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Blue Morning Glory II flower mandala
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about spirituality and art. So far, my thoughts are vague and unformed, but I’m aware that in my own life, my work as an artist and my spiritual development have been running in tandem for a long time, often intersecting.
I’d be very intersted in hearing from others their thoughts on this: on how either making or experiencing some kind of art has related to their sense of themselves as spiritual beings, and their growth in this area. Spirituality has been so much a part of art, and art so much a part of places of worship in all cultures and, as far as I know, for as long as there have been places of worship, that they must be intricately interwoven in the human soul. It would be interesting to start to figure out how and why, and how to tweak that interweaving in our own lives to make both more accessible.
Please let us know your thoughts, either here or in the parallel post in the Art, Healing, and Transformation group.
More anon,
– David
David J. Bookbinder, LMHC
Discussion:
Spirituality and Art / Spiritual Art
Art, Healing, and Transformation group
Flower Mandalas Project group

© 2008, David J. Bookbinder

Soul Mandalas

This is another in a series of articles by guest authors or artists.

D. Kristen Herrington is an artist, writer, and Reiki master/teacher from Round Rock, Texas. Here, she tells the story of her Soul Mandalas.

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Kristen Herrington’s Soul mandala
Life is fascinating. The ins and outs of desire and design make for the most interesting roller coaster ride! When I was a child and people would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?,” I would simply say, “I don’t know, but I want to love everyone and I want everyone to love me.” Somewhat unrealistic, I’ll grant you, but honest in its sentiment.
As college approached, I still had no idea what to do. However, I had always loved art, drawing, reading, writing, and fabrics. I had won prizes and accolades for my drawings and writing. The textures (two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and in good writing) captivated me. So, off to art school I went. Printmaking became my method of combining texture with form in a medium which allowed me to retain a piece for myself. I always had a problem parting with my ‘babies.’
After four years of training but no degree, I decided to go to work. Sales and service became my existence for that time, until I finally virtually screamed, “Enough!” Back to college where I at last earned my degree in psychology. Odd, you might say, but my understanding of the psychological parameters of human existence has been invaluable in my creative work.
After a brief stint in graduate school, many years in advertising and marketing followed. Ultimately the scream returned, and I left the corporate world entirely. I had begun a more metaphysical life, studying shamanism, animal communication, and Reiki. The questionable integrity in the advertising world had become far too dissonant with my newfound understanding of my soul.
The development of my spiritual greeting card line was an organic process. My writing and artwork seemed to weave themselves together quite naturally.
Then an amazing thing happened. My first soul mandala was born. I say born because, like childbirth, I do not remember the process. I simply became aware, after roughly an 18 hour session on my computer, of a beautiful image before me. (I know I fed the cats and changed their litter box somewhere in there, but remember nothing else…) I had never created anything like it and it resonated with my own soul energy. It is my own soul portrait – my soul mandala. Try as I might, I still cannot recall or repeat the creation method for that particular mandala.
With a bit of prodding from my friend Carrie Laymon (a remarkable energy healer – http://pathfindertohealth.com), I began to recognize the possibilities. Using my Reiki training (I’m a Reiki Master/Teacher), I could access the soul energy of a person and allow that energy to direct my creative process. An entirely new concept opened to me.
My process is, I believe, unique. I work in Adobe Illustrator to create brush strokes. The strokes are then brought into Adobe Photoshop. A stroke is isolated, placed, duplicated and rotated, then the group of strokes is merged together. I repeat this process many times, ultimately creating a frame. The background colors are laid down, and all the fill colors are laid in row by row. The frame is then embossed graphically. Finally, the background, center, and any other bursts are added. The end result is a somewhat traditional mandala with a particularly modern feeling. Also, every step of the way is directed by the soul of the client, from the movement of the strokes to the angles of the bursts. I take my guidance from spirit.
The mandala form is such a healing and resonant form throughout cultures and history. In using this form with Reiki energy, I believe I’m creating potentially powerful regenerative artwork. I’ve had interesting experiences connecting with the souls of my clients and receiving direction specifically geared for the recovery of their essence.
Regardless, I’m finally producing the work I’m meant to produce. I continue to create in other art forms, including my spiritual greeting cards, sculpture, fabric art, and various writings; fiction, poetry, and essays. But the soul mandalas in particular seem to resonate with people, and I’m thrilled to produce them!
I hope the public enjoys my work! And thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss all of this with you!
namaste,
Kristen
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Gelatinous Light mandala
Discussion:
Soul Mandalas
Obtaining Kristen’s work
Mandala prints on canvas and spiritual greeting cards by Kristen are available at http://www.pathfindertohealth.com/greetingcards/
Unique Personal Soul Mandalas are available by commission. Kristen displays some, with their owner’s permission, here: http://www.723.com/lifelites/gallery
Contact information: kristen@herrington.tc

© 2008, D. Kristen Herrington

Iris Germanica I (and another invitation)

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Above is the Iris Germanica I flower mandala (which I’d love to have your comments on, either here or in the Flower Mandalas Project group). Here is the invitation:
Although the Beliefnet.com home page calls me an “expert,” I’m really just another traveller on life’s journey, and I’d very much like to hear from you about yours.
I’ve noticed that quite a few people have joined the Art, Healing, and Transformation group, and that’s great! I hope, here, to create a community in which blog readers and group members are not just listening to me, but are sharing in each other’s stories, thoughts, feelings, experiences, ideas, and struggles, as well as sharing their creative work. So I hope I will see more and more of this, and encourage you to post “early and often.”
I’m also interested in experimenting with using the “Miracle Question” I wrote about here, and I’m asking for volunteers to engage with. I’d like to use it online as a way to let myself and other members of the Beliefnet community help people to discover/recover their creative selves.
One of the things I do in the physical world is lead small groups I call Artists on Artists. In these groups, I use the Miracle Question as a framework for people to imagine what their lives would be like if all the issues and concerns they have as creative people were, like that!, solved. They write or draw these visions of their “miracle” lives and then, step by step, week by week, through a combination of peer review of their product and peer review of their process, the group helps them get there. It really works! People who have been blocked get unblocked. People who have always wanted to do something artistic discover what it is they want to do. People who are timid about getting their work out there — get their work out there. And so on. Each person’s miracle is different, and they’re all exciting to help actualize.
I’d like to do that here on Beliefnet, too. I’d like to encourage you to experiment, with me as your “miracle coach,” on you developing your particular miracle. Miracle workers of the world, unite! And post your questions, concerns…, and your miracles.
See you in cyberspace,
More anon,
– David
David J. Bookbinder, LMHC
Art, Healing, and Transformation group
Flower Mandalas Project group

© 2008, David J. Bookbinder

A Few Words from a Documentary Photographer: Ernest Morin

This is the second in a series of posts by guest authors/artists.

Ernest Morin started making photographs in 1978. He takes black-and-white pictures with a wide variety of film cameras and is among the best portrait and documentary photographers I know. Ernest’s work was recently selected as one of 20 current American documentary photographers to be presented by the Not for Profit Network at the annual conference “Agents of Change: Art and Advocacy” sponsored by the Society of Photographic Education in Denver, Colorado.

Often, Ernest takes photographs in his home town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. In an article in the Gloucester Times he said, “Photography is a challenge for me. It’s not something that comes naturally. But I love the inexhaustible medium that it provides me and how it allows me to process how I feel about the world.” This post describes his response to a recent fire that destroyed an apartment building and the neighboring Jewish temple, and in which one resident was killed as the intensity of the fire dramatically increased just before he could be rescued.

A Few Words from a Documentary Photographer: Ernest Morin

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The picture above was taken on Dec 14, 2007. I often take photographs of my city. Most of my work is deeply rooted in Place, but this was the first time I had to make pictures knowing someone I knew fell back into the fire and others were still unaccounted for. It was also very fast moving, as within an hour we watched a city block go from flame to collapse.

Art making isn’t usually so upsetting or terrifying. We have no words to summarize the range and extent of primal feelings such circumstances evoke. How do you make sense of something this utterly intense? How do you make sense of all those complex and strong emotional responses for which you have no names? I continue to photograph, to see as clearly as I can – to look for truths and poetry in everyday life – to try to comprehend….

The notion that is is healing is up for debate. One makes art because one is compelled to say something they otherwise can’t – one does not make art to heal oneself. Art making can be healing, but it can also rip open old wounds, renew old trauma, and cause you to be extremely sad all over again. My work is not pretty – more often it is very gritty and, as one woman recently said, “not comfortable nor convenient to look at.” I tend to shoot what is behind the postcard view of life in the city or American life.

I take my cameras on my daily walks. For a long time, I used them to help distract me from the constant nerve pain I live with — the act of concentrating on making an image is like a mini-meditation and disrupts the signal somewhat – but the photographs I made were about the changes the town was experiencing and the people who live here and thus make it the Place it is. I started this work a year before my accident, so I can’t claim to have done it in order to heal myself, although I do realize it helped me get through. The pain allowed me to see in ways I probably would never have been able to and to have empathy for others. Having a medium I knew extremely well was a huge help, as I had a way to express myself outside of the pain.

The photograph below I made some 26 hours after the one above. I had taken in an elderly couple who were rendered homeless by the fire. I went out at 2:30am Sunday morning to see if the block they lived on had any electrical power. I was struck hard when I saw the scene. I walked home. It was already snowing. I packed up a 4×5 camera, film, and a heavy tripod, then hiked back. I hadn’t slept for more than an hour at a time since the fire – I needed to find some resolve with it.

This image said all I wanted to relate about what I felt and how it felt and why and it also was beautiful, which held hope. I fumbled, as my fingers were a bit numb, made several two minute exposures, kept moving around until I arrived at this solution. It was very peaceful and calming: I could hear the crackle of timbers burning and the hiss of water, snow was falling, it was incredibly quiet. I made several other exposures and lost track of how cold it was. I arrived home a few blocks away at 4am, made myself a cup of tea, and sat down and cried. I suppose the experience was healing to some degree.

This view of the temple was gone by early morning. I’m glad I had a strong need to process it and that I use my camera as a means. I emailed the scanned negative to the Rabbi and gave them usage for their web site. It has touched many people at this point and in some ways has helped to allow them to make their personal peace with what happened. I still can’t go into a darkroom to print it. In the process of making prints, I will re-experience a lot of those emotions, and it is far too raw at the moment for me to do that. If you are really sensitive and open, making Art is like living more intensely. When you fire that shutter you galvanize that moment in the camera as well as in your mind and it is fused to your emotional state. I can still recall vividly moments from 1980 that are my photographs – smells, peripheral details one should have long forgotten.

I always make a point to share my work with the community in ways that are public and free, as Art shouldn’t be only for the elite who can afford museum prices these days. Real art has always had a community purpose. It is only recently that it has become very self-absorbed and art-world centered. I make images that I feel will stand as documents for future generations to have an idea of what we experienced in our time. Perhaps it is healing to know others went through the struggle as well. Certainly, when I look at an Edward Curtis photograph or a drawing or painting by Rembrandt, I feel a connection, experience a similar range of emotion, and that transcending of time is good for ones spirit.

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A Quicktime slideshow of Ernest Morin’s recent work:
(This may take a minute or so to download, depending on your connection speed.)

Link to Gloucester temple website:
Temple Ahavat Achim

Discussion:
A Few Words from Ernest Morin

Links to some of Ernest Morin’s work:
The Flag
At the Crossroads: A City in Transition

Contact information: dba_document@yahoo.com

© 2008, Ernest Morin

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