In December I shared the art of mandala making with residents at the Escondido,CA Interfaith Community winter shelter residents, as well as with some residents of the veteran housing. As always, I was delighted to watch the mandalas in the making, and amazed at the results. My students included a blind veteran who could see shadows and although he was not able to work in the detail he wanted, he enjoyed the process and relating to the other students. One student created a vibrant and intricate mandala, and it turned out he was hoping to get training as a graphic designer. A large man on my right got to work immediately with a compass and protractor and we learned he was heading out soon to motorcycle mechanic training. When I asked the residents of the winter shelter how they liked the mandala trees we painted on the walls the month before, one woman said quietly, “I like my mandala by my bed. It helps me feel centered.” As someone who lost my home and was perilously close to not having any home, I relate. Mandala making has helped me stay centered.
February 1st was the first day of artists in schools as part of the Escondido Art Alliance pilot program to help pave the way for getting art back in schools! I had two 2nd grade classes during which we discussed what mandalas are, where we see them, what centering is, how we can get centered with some yoga breathing and spinning movements, and then went to work. There was a large variety; some were spirals, pies, clocks, flowers, all starting small and then filling the page. Next class will consist of spreading out a large canvas on the floor, and incorporating each child’s mandala onto a larger sphere. This will then be the floor pattern or map for some of the classes to perform on in April. Other classes will keep the canvas to hang as a tapestry. I was struck by one child who asked if she could take home a blank piece of paper. Of course we said yes, and it seemed to make her day. I wonder why, in what I imagine to be one of the wealthiest places in the world, a single piece of paper to draw on is a scarcity.