Community Arts Initiative: Mindful Mandalas
Kids collaborate to create art through meditation
Over a seven-month period, approximately 100 young artists from the Museum’s ten Community Arts Initiative (CAI) partners in the Boston area collaborated with artist and educator Sneha Shrestha to create a wall mural inspired by mandalas, or graphic symbols used to aid in meditation.
“Mindful Mandalas” presents a constellation of small personal mandalas created by the young artists and mounted in three 12-foot-tall mandalas painted by Shrestha. Inspired by cultural practices of her native Nepal, Shrestha invited children to process their thoughts and feelings with the goal of finding inner peace through reflection, meditation, and the contemplation of selected artworks at the MFA, including Claude Monet’s Water Lilies (1905) and Guanyin, Bodhisattva of Compassion (early 12th century). Inspired by the process of close looking, the children then painted their own mandalas to be incorporated into the installation.
The installation is brightly pigmented and modeled after Japanese Star Mandalas from the Kamakura period. It is paired with several related contemporary artworks from the MFA's collection by Yayoi Kusama, Annette Lemieux, and others, as well as a video documenting the creation of the mandalas.
“Mindful Mandalas” marks the fourteenth year of the Community Arts Initiative, through which the Museum partners with community organizations to introduce kids ages 6 to 12 to the MFA’s collections and the art-making process. Through the CAI, the Museum is proud to partner with the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester; the West End House Boys and Girls Club of Allston-Brighton; United South End Settlements; Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center; Vine Street Community Center; and five Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston located in Blue Hill, Charlestown, Chelsea, Roxbury, and South Boston.