Mandala and The Chautauqua Institution (say that 5 times fast)

I recently learned that Revealing Cracks Mandala was accepted into the 55th Chautauqua Exhibition of Contemporary Art hosted by The Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution. There were over 400 entries submitted and only 24 pieces were chosen by 17 artists.

The Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution (VACI) includes the Chautauqua School of Art, the galleries of the Strohl Art Center, the Fowler-Kellogg Art Center, the Melvin Johnson Sculpture Garden and a visual arts lecture series.

The juror who selected my work is quite distinguished, so I’m honored to be a part of this show.


“VACI, the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution, is pleased to announce that renowned critic, curator and author Kim Levin is the juror for Chautauqua’s 55th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art. Levin has organized numerous exhibitions in venues throughout the United States as well as in Denmark, Germany, Japan, Korea, Norway, and Poland. She has written frequently for publications including The New York Times, ArtNews , Art in America, Art Journal, Sculpture, Connoisseur, and many others. She was a regular contributor to The Village Voicefor more than twenty years and has been Contributing Editor ofArts Magazine and New York correspondent for Flash Art and Opus International.

President Honoraire of the International Association of Art Critics, Levin is author of Beyond Modernism: Essays on Art from the ‘70s and ‘80s (Harper Collins), and Editor of Beyond Walls and Wars: Art, Politics, and Multiculturalism (Midmarch Press) and she conceived and co-edited Art Planet: A Global View of Art Criticism (AICA Press). Among her many honors are the Art/World Award for Distinguished Newspaper Journalism and the SECA (Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art) fellowship for criticism presented by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She was selected as a Fellow for the Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program and has written catalogue texts for many museum exhibitions in the United States as well as exhibitions ranging from the Centre Georges Pompidou and Moderna Museet Stockholm to the Kunstmuseum Basel and the Yokohama Museum.”

Whew! So in June, Mandala will be off on its own to New York in time for the Opening Reception on June 24, 2012, 3-5 p.m., at the Strohl Art Center (show runs from June 24–July 12).

The Chautauqua Institution is really a unique and amazing place. Check out pics of their beautiful buildings & spaces here: and the video below.

In process – Mandala #2

So this piece is still pretty rough and a little difficult even to show, but that’s how everything starts out. This mandala will almost exclusively be made by needle felting. This process mechanically forces the fibers to tangle. The first mandala was about the melding of world views, this one is more reflective of world views forced on us by birth or environment. I’ll go into more detail when it’s completed, which might be a while. This will require many, many more hours at the felting machine.


Here I’m working on the second layer, the lace layer. Some bits have been felted down already, but many are still just pinned (the ones you more defined edges)

Learn New Tricks & Finished Work, “Kitchen Sink Mandala”

I felted a wall hanging in January. It’s been hanging on my kitchen wall, supposedly done. But it just…needed…something, some sort of edging to go around the piece. I’ve had a hankering to learn hand-heaving techniques lately and had seen a book on the glorious inter-web called 200 Braids, which is really more than just braids. After over-experimenting and way too much deliberating, I selected a knotting structure, technically known as “double opposite half-hitches over a core.” Fun stuff. I could do it all day. And I did.

Thus, introducing the finished piece, “Kitchen Sink Mandala.” I intend this as the first in a series of three. Most often used in reference to Buddhist spiritual practices, mandala are images or patterns that symbolically represents the cosmos, as interpreted by the human perspective. The psychoanalyst Carl Jung also saw the mandala as “a representation of the unconscious self.”  The lotus-like shape I’ve chosen is not the usual shape for a Buddhist mandala, but is seen in Hindu yantras, and also in Christianity (rose windows). This was an idea of meshing worldviews, reflected in the form and use of numerous materials that blend overall. While the other pieces in the series will consist of one piece, this mandals uses two elements that hang separately, a sort of “existing independently, but working together” idea.

Kitchen Sink Mandala 36 x 36 x 3/4″


Here’s a detail of that knotted edging.


I threw a lot into this thing, yes, everything but the….

I try to reflect the meaning of a piece not only in the visual language, but also through the materials. And…it was just a lot of fun throwing all sorts of things into the felting process. The main element is natural white Shetland wool. Then there is angora wool(goat), silk fabric, silk fiber, hemp fiber, various synthetic yarns, and ceramic beads.


My first attempt at felting it in the washing machine didn’t exactly work out, as I didn’t have the room or setup to do some things that, in the end, you really just can’t skip. Here are some pics from the initial layout, after wetting it down, and then rolled up and tied,  ready for felting. I basically took over the living room for a day. For scale, the sheet is about four feet across.


But I worked it out in the end. Live, learn.