Beauty & (Im)Balance ~ Quarantine Backyard Mandalas

“…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”  ~ Wendell Berry

On a micro level, my backyard woodlands in northern NJ reflect a greater concern for our changing world.  I explore my home, which is deeply personal and at the same time universal in the context of our global climate crisis.  My mixed media series, Quarantine Backyard Mandalas, started during the pandemic and is ongoing.  My intention is to bring joy, beauty and unity while focusing on proliferation of invasive plant species and abundance of tree losses.  Many of these plants crowd out native ones which have thrived for millennia.  They are better at adapting to the accelerating climate change and can beat native species to the new fields and valleys.  As plants and trees are forced to adapt, they have to make some sort of order out of chaos.

Formed in my backyard, these mandalas take on recognizable shapes in unexpected symmetry, and sometimes intentional asymmetry.  I create in layers using multiple mediums working at first with urgency and alarming speed, and completing the work in a slow meditated state.  The mandala is an ancient spiritual symbol usually taking a circular form to represent life’s eternal journey, never-ending and perfect.  It is an ever-present reminder of interconnectedness and change.  Nothing exists on its own and nothing lasts forever.

 QBM Ornamental Beginning and Ornamental Glory are two mandalas on exhibition for one year at the Historic Walnford in Monmouth County Park, Upper Freehold, NJ.  The interdisciplinary exhibition titled “Thrive”, focuses on the phenomenon of growth and decay of nature over time, the ebb and flow and ever-changing cycle of life that silently shifts.

As part of the grant I give Backyard Art Workshops to children and families to promote awareness and advocacy of the natural world.  Over the last 400 years many of the invasive plants that have been introduced into NJ have replaced the native ones and affected the biodiversity of the entire region.  Learning about these plants brings the climate change crisis into a sharp focus especially so close to home.  My hope is that when you create with your own hands, a more lasting experience is felt, which can lead to a love and stewardship of the earth.