Sand mandala photos are focus of exhibit and talk

By Leslie King | Emory Report | Sep. 24, 2013

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"The Mind's Eye" exhibit. Photo by Myron McGhee.

"Reflections on Artistry, Spirituality and Community," a talk and reception for a photography exhibit on Tibetan sand mandalas, will be Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m.  in Brooks Commons of Cannon Chapel, sponsored by the Office of Religious Life.  

"The Mind's Eye" is an exhibit of photographs by Myron McGhee of Tibetan Buddhist monks painting sand mandalas during their annual visits to Emory. McGhee is a library specialist in the Pitts Theology Library.

The photographs will be on exhibit in Brooks Commons through Nov. 1.  

At the free, public reception, McGhee, and Tsepak Rigzin, Tibetan instructor, will reflect on their experiences with the mandalas and the monks who create these detailed and colorful works of art. Rigzin teaches Tibetan language courses at Emory and is Scholar in Residence and official translator for Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta.

Juana McGhee, academic department administrator in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies, curated the exhibit and will also talk about her experience.  

"Over a 12 year period, Myron and I have enjoyed observing the sand mandalas created by Buddhist monks affiliated with The Mystical Arts of Tibet, during their annual visits to Emory," says Juana McGhee.  

"It has become a cherished tradition, as our eyes are drawn to the exquisite beauty of their art, and as our minds are inspired by their religious devotion.  We are honored to share our experiences through The Mind's Eye project, an exhibit of Myron's photographs documenting the mandala process from distinctive perspectives."

Following ceremonial rituals and an ancient art, Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery place millions of grains of colored sand on a table using traditional tools to construct this intricate sacred art. Once completed, the sand mandala is swept away in a ceremony, a practice that symbolizes impermanence.

"It is my hope that viewers will come to appreciate the deep levels of awareness and stillness required of the artisans, monk and photographer alike, as they invite us to pause long enough to see beyond the seen to the unseen," Juana McGhee adds. 

A new mandala will be created in honor of the upcoming visit of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery will create a Medicine Buddha Mandala, which will be available for viewing during public hours at the Drepung Loseling Monastery Meditation Hall.