Bobbi Mastrangelo’s Mandala Response to Oliwia Gajda
Oliwia Gajda, a student at Jan Kochanowski’s University in Kielce, Poland is finishing her 5th year of Fine Art. She is writing her master’s thesis on the mandala. She contacted contemporary artists who create mandalas and asked for permission to use the information provided by them in her work. She asked us to select seven questions to answer from her list of twelve. Below is the information I sent to her.
2. What motivated you to choose the mandala as a form of expression?
My Printmaking Professor, Dan Welden, suggested choosing a theme or style to gain an art identity. I sought the advice of Professor Lawrence Alloway who wrote the book on American Pop Art. He pointed out the frequency of circles in my art portfolio: a full moon behind an owl print, a water color painting of the morning sun behind a rooster, a sunburst construction, etc. I discovered circular manhole covers to be a perfect art theme.
3. How did you find out about mandalas?
I learned about mandalas from Hertha Bauer. Though her regular job dealt with illuminated manuscripts, she had noticed how the patterns of early manhole covers resembled ancient mandalas. Her photo etchings and manhole cover photographs were on exhibit at the Arsenal Gallery in New York City’s Central Park.
4. How would you describe the meaning of the mandala in contemporary times?
Mandala is a Sanskrit word for Circle. It continues to endure in contemporary times as a continuous closed form with no harsh angles. The circle is a symbol for meditation, protection, healing and socialization.
5. What does the mandala mean for you, personally?
I did not contemplate the meaning of mandalas until I created “Grate Wall Medallion.” An artistic monogram on a New York City manhole cover inspired me to decorate the circumference. I chose twelve symbols of Oriental Calligraphy to complement the center. Love (ai) was placed at the top, Woman at 3:00, Child at 6:00 and Man at 9:00. Dawn and Sky represented weather and spiritual aspects. Rice stood for sustenance. Think was education and knowledge. Tree was a major resource and shelter. Home provided shelter and represented the family. Soil nurtured plants and animals. Water was a life-giving force. Together these twelve symbols signified a circle of life.
6. What do you think is specific and unique about the mandala?
The circle by its very form captivates the viewer. Each person is affected differently, but I see it as a symbol of unity, harmony and eternity.
9. How would you describe the message that is hidden in the mandala?
The message that is hidden in my mandala, “Great Wall Medallion,” is that love governs all elements from the creator to us and from us to each other.
12. What do you consider to be your greatest artistic accomplishment?
My art fosters an appreciation and respect for all our precious resources, especially WATER.