Leaf Mandalas (aka Tree Mandalas) are site-specific installation works created from a process of gathering leaves from the local environment close to the exhibition site. They are dried and painted with gold leaf in different patterns, then arranged into custom mandala shapes based on site-specific conditions.
In various spiritual traditions, mandalas’ geometric configurations help focus both the creator and viewer and establish a sense of sacred space. Their circular design represents wholeness and as symbolic maps of the cosmos; the microcosm becomes the macro.
In this day and age, there are so many ways we are disconnected from the natural environment. By creating these mandalas and using leaves from the surrounding region, I aim to help re-establish a connection between the natural world and gallery space. Despite its meager size, the complex structure of a leaf is a thing of beauty in and of itself. It inspires many meanings and possibilities. Even in death, the dried form is intimately connected with life. As part of nature’s sublime cycle, it will return to the earth via decomposition to feed other forms of life. The addition of gold and copper leaf on the leaves (a knowing pun) reminds the viewer of nature’s divinity and echoes the use of precious metals in holy items throughout cultures.
I encourage and invite viewers to develop a unique relationship with the mandalas, whatever form that may take. Whether one slows down to admire the details or has a quick moment to take a selfie, each possesses its own particular merits in this context as both are reinserting themselves into a symbolic reconnection with and appreciation of nature.
Photos from exhibition What is it about Trees? at El Camino College Art Gallery in Feb-March 2020.
Next installations will take place at Angel’s Gate Cultural Art Center, San Pedro in April-May 2021, and Westfield Valencia Town Center August-October 2021.