To kick off our newly formed institutional partnership with New York University, the Rubin Museum hosted a mandala workshop for their Graduate Art Therapy Program on Sunday, August 26th. The workshop, which included a gallery tour followed by an art-making session in our Education Center, provided an inspiring and creative orientation program for fifteen first-year Art Therapy students.
After the students took a gallery tour exploring mandalas as visual tools for spiritual transformation, we transitioned to the Education Center where Laura and Janette asked participants to meditate on the journey that had brought each one of them to program. Just as a spiritual practitioner seeks balance by envisioning him or her self moving towards the center of a mandala, as discussed during our tour, the students were asked to consider how they might envision themselves moving towards a sense of centered-ness.
Laura and Janette then passed out circular paper discs, about 10 inches in diameter, and plenty of art materials to allow imaginations to take flight. Laura Sloan and I were inspired to join in and we sat down at the table. A quiet hush fell over the room.
Once completed, we glued our discs to a large, blue mandala drawing that Laura and Janette had made before the workshop. While gazing at the collective mandala, Laura and Janette invited each of us to say a word describing how we felt. One student smiled and said “connected.” There were many nods of agreement. The mandala, as something seen, felt, and created, had given us a strong sense of community.
Many thanks to Ikuko Acosta, Director of NYU’s Graduate Art Therapy Program, and Marygrace Berberian, Program Coordinator, who both provided enthusiastic support for this collaborative project.