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The Mystical Arts of Tibet Mandala Sand Painting - February 5 – 9

Mattie Kelly Arts Center


12/13/2012 -

Opening Ceremony: February 5, 12:00 noon
Galleries Open: Feb. 5, 12 N to 5:00 p.m., Feb. 6th – 8th, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 9th 9:00 am to 1:00 p.m.
Gallery Reception: February 8, 6:00 p.m.
Closing Ceremony: February 9, 2:00 p.m.

The Mattie Kelly Arts Center Galleries are pleased to welcome the Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery back to the Niceville campus of Northwest Florida State College. The monks will construct a mandala sand painting in the McIlroy Gallery February 5 to 9, 2013. The monks previously created mandalas at NWFSC in 2001, 2005, and 2008. Their visits have been among the most highly attended exhibits in Gallery history as thousands of local residents turned out to experience this important cultural event.

All events in conjunction with the Mystical Arts of Tibet are free and open to the public. The Mattie Kelly Arts Center Galleries will be open for extended hours while the monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery construct the mandala sand painting.

The Opening Ceremony is at noon on Tuesday, February 5, and the Galleries will remain open until 5:00 p.m. that day. The public is also invited to view the monks work on the mandala progress on Wednesday, February 6 through Friday, February 8 from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, February 9 from 9:00 a.m. through 1:00 p.m. The Closing Ceremony will be held on Saturday, February 9, at 2:00 p.m. The Mattie Kelly Arts Center Galleries and NWFSC will honor the monks’ visit with a public Gallery Reception on Friday, February 8 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

The mandala sand painting begins with a highly visual and intricate opening ceremony, held on Tuesday, February 5, at 12:00 p.m., during which the lamas consecrate the site and call forth the forces of goodness. This is done by means of chanting, music, and mantra recitation. The lamas begin the exhibit by drawing an outline of the mandala on a wooden platform. On the following days they lay the colored sands; each monk holds a traditional metal funnel called a chakpur while running a metal rod on its grated surface. The vibration causes the sands to flow like liquid onto the platform.

Of all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of days to form the image of a mandala, a sacred cosmogram. To date the monks have created mandala sand paintings in more than 100 museums, art centers, and colleges and universities in the United States and Europe.

Mandalas have outer, inner, and secret meanings. On the outer level they represent the world in its divine form; on the inner level they represent a map by which the ordinary human mind is transformed into enlightened mind; and on the secret level they depict the primordially perfect balance of the subtle energies of the body and the clear light dimension of the mind. The creation of a sand painting is said to effect purification and healing on these three levels.

Traditionally sand mandalas are destroyed shortly after their completion. This is done as a metaphor for the impermanence of life. The sands are swept up and placed in an urn; to fulfill the function of healing, half is distributed to the audience at the closing ceremony, while the remainder is carried to a nearby body of water to be deposited. The waters then carry the healing blessing to the ocean, and from there it spreads throughout the world for planetary healing. The Closing Ceremony will be held on Saturday, February 9, at 2:00 p.m. at the Galleries, after which the remaining mandala sands will be released in local waters.

For information, contact the Mattie Kelly Arts Center Galleries at (850) 729-6044.