Mandala Unites Joy and Principles of Community

Mandala-like art by Zsofia Penzvaltó
<strong>Mandala-like art by Zs&oacute;fia P&eacute;nzv&aacute;lt&oacute;, who will lead next week&rsquo;s workshop.</strong>

A sand mandala project by Tibetan monks from the East Bay has unfortunately been canceled, but UC Davis is still hosting a Community Art Mandala Workshop, free and family friendly, the evening of Thursday, Feb. 28.

The workshop is presented by the Campus Community Book Project in conjunction with our annual celebration of the UC Davis Principles of Community, which state, in part, that “we affirm the dignity inherent in all of us” and that “we strive to maintain a climate of equity and justice demonstrated by respect for one another.”


The book project organized the mandala workshop to go along with this year's reading selection: The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams.

Viewed by the Hindu and Buddhist religions as a symbol of the universe, and used by them as an instrument of meditation, a mandala is a graphic design of repeating colors, shapes and patterns, sometimes made with sand, around a unifying center — not unlike the role of the Principles of Community at UC Davis. Fittingly, the mandala to be created at UC Davis during Principles of Community Week (Feb. 25-March 1) will be a group project — unifying, if you will — whereby participants will create individual sections that will be assembled into one piece for display on a wall on the first floor of Shields Library.

“Everyone will work individually on creating multiple small symbols, replicas of the same symbol, or different ones,” said the workshop leader, Zsófia Pénzváltó. “These symbols can be very personal or universal, painted in multiple copies (by hand), using the hand painting as an opportunity for contemplation and meditation on the meaning and weight of the symbol.”

Pénzváltó is an artist and illustrator and former postdoctoral researcher in molecular biology at UC Davis’ Center for Comparative Medicine. She now teaches biology at American River College.

She said she encourages people to find or come up with their own symbols, but added that she will also bring some examples.

Supplies will be provided: paper, ink and calligraphy brushes. “For most people who are not artists, painting with a brush might be a very unusual thing to do,” Pénzváltó said. She explained that she chose this technique to help people step out of their usual ways of thinking.

“We are very quick with heavy words when we write or talk, but reducing a complex thought into a simple symbol and have to visualize it with inks … I believe that this helps the process of contemplation.”

People interested in participating are invited to stop by anytime from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in 205 Shields Library.

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