UW-Eau Claire Artists Series presents The Mystical Arts of Tibet

| Denise Olson

Dreprung Loseling monks and mandala sand painting

Dreprung Loseling monks

The monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery will visit UW-Eau Claire from March 11-15 for an artist residency that includes creating a sand mandala, lectures on Tibetan culture, traditions and beliefs, and a sacred music and dance performance. All residency activities are open to everyone, free of charge. The full schedule is provided below.

The Mystical Arts of Tibet is a world tour endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to promote world peace and healing by sharing Tibet’s rich and authentic sacred performing and visual arts with modern audiences. The residency offers a rare opportunity to witness one of the world’s most ancient sacred traditions presented by a group of monk artists for whom these traditions are a way of life.

Exhibit attendees watch them painstakingly lay down millions of grains of sand to create the mandala pattern. The dayslong process begins with an opening ceremony and ends with a dismantling of the mandala design and ceremonial distribution of the sand back into the earth — an act symbolizing the impermanence of life.

Drepung Loseling Monastery, Karnataka, India

Drepung Loseling Monastery in Karnataka, India

The artists are monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery. The original monastery in Tibet was destroyed during the Chinese Communist takeover in 1959, and most of the Tibetan monks were either killed or imprisoned. Approximately 250 monks survived and were exiled as refugees in India, where they rebuilt a replica of the Dreprung Loseling, which houses their practice today.

The performers on The Mystical Arts of Tibet tour are not full-time professional artists; rather they are genuine monks who are taking time off from their lifelong devotion to contemplation and study to participate in the tour. They consider it an honor to be selected to represent their monastery and share their cultural traditions on the tour, hoping that they will be able to make some small contribution toward world peace and greater awareness of the Tibetan situation. At the end of each tour the monks return to Drepung Loseling Monastery to continue their vocation.

For a preview of this weeklong event, watch a short video from a recent residency of the monks at UW-Madison.

Residency schedule:

  • Monday, March 11: Opening ceremony at 1 p.m.; Mandala creation begins immediately following, until 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday-Thursday, March 12-14: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sand mandala creation, public may view and take photos until the closing ceremony. 
  • Friday, March 15: Closing ceremony at 1 p.m.