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Monks to create mandala sand painting as part of Artists Series event

RELEASED: Sept.1, 2011

Mandala Sand Painting

EAU CLAIRE — The 2011-12 season of the Artists Series at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will begin with a week of activities centered around the Sept. 15 concert by the Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery.

The lamas will construct a mandala sand painting Sept. 12-16 in the Skylight Lounge of Davies Center. A mandala is a sacred cosmogram used as an object of contemplation and its creation from colored sand is one of the most exquisite artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism. Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of days in order to form a mandala to purify and heal the environment and its inhabitants.

The monks of Drepung Loseling have created mandala sand paintings in more than 100 museums, art centers, colleges and universities in the U.S. and Europe. In response to the Sept. 11 tragedies, they had the honor of creating special mandalas and leading meditations in New York and Washington, D.C. Organized in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution, these events were dedicated to the healing and protection of America.

Manjushri Mandala (Buddha for Wisdom) is the mandala that will be created at UW-Eau Claire. Members of the university community are invited to watch the mandala's construction and are welcome to join in the creation of a community mandala in the Skylight Lounge throughout the week.

The opening ceremony will begin at noon Sept. 12, when the lamas will consecrate the site by means of chanting, music and mantra recitation. They begin the exhibit by drawing an outline of the mandala on the 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.

A lecture and discussion titled "The Symbolism of the Sand Mandala" will be presented at noon Sept. 14 in Davies Theatre. The one-hour lecture by Geshe Damcho will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

A closing ceremony will begin at noon Sept. 16 in the Skylight Lounge. In keeping with tradition, the completed mandala will be destroyed as a metaphor for the impermanence of life. To fulfill the function of healing, the monks of Drepung Loseling will give half of the sand to the audience and the remainder will be carried and released into the river.

The free events are presented in cooperation with the University Activities Commission of the Student Senate. Additional support is provided by the division of Student Affairs, University Recreation & Sport Facilities, The Forum and the Center for International Education through the international activities budget.

The Mystical Arts of Tibet tour also will include the Artists Series performance "Sacred Music Sacred Dance for World Healing" Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena.

The Artists Series is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin. The Artists Series also is funded in part by Visit Eau Claire ... The Unexpected Wisconsin. Wisconsin Public Radio and Community Television have contributed generous promotional support. Funded by the students of UW-Eau Claire, the Artists Series is administered by the Activities, Involvement and Leadership office of the University Centers.

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JS/DW

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