Mandalas, whether presented as art or an expression of spirituality or as a symbol of the universe or as a result of geometric teasings of fractals, have long fascinated me. The name literally means “circle” in Sanskrit, and within Buddhism and Hinduism the mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol representative of the cosmos around us.
Within Second Life, an artist who captures everything of the rich context, ritual form, balance and harmony of the mandala in her art is Sheba Blitz, and she is currently the Artist in Residence for August at InterstellART, where she is presenting Simply Spiritual, featuring several of her mandalas, and more besides.
Sheba draws on numerous sources as inspiration for her mandalas. Some of these may be close to the spiritual origins of the form – Buddhism and Hinduism -, others might be as diverse as western astrology or tarot cards. Whatever the source, she produces these marvellous pieces using gouache, acrylics or metallic paints on either canvas or paper, and the uploaded images offered for display within Second Life lose nothing of the intricate beauty of their production.
One of the most fascinating forms of the mandala is created by Tibetan Buddhists. Called dul-tson-kyil-khor (mandala of coloured powders”), or sandpainting, it is a most intricate ritual that sees the production of the most stunning mandala art that has to be seen to be truly appreciated. None of the pieces produced – generally over the course of several days – survives long after its completion; instead, it is destroyed and the sands used taken to a body of water where they are given up as an offering. The entire process serves as both a metaphor for the “impermanence” of the physical world, and also as a means to reconsecrate the earth and its inhabitants.
In many respects, through their survival beyond the creative process, Sheba’s mandalas also offer a metaphor. However, rather than being representative of the impermanent nature of the physical world, their continuance serves as a reminder of the enduring beauty of the universe in which we reside.
Sheba notes that she didn’t originally come to Second Life to display her work. However, after joining, she found herself drawn to the world of art in Second Life, attending exhibitions, seeking other artists, buying pieces by others, and immersing herself in the means to experience art in a new way. Fortunately, she was asked to start exhibiting her own work, and Second Life has been the richer for it.
More recently, the rich diversity of artistic opportunities she’s experienced in SL has led Sheba into new avenues of expression, notably in-world photography and 3D art and sculpture. Simply Spiritual also presents some of the fruits of these broader endeavours, with a number of Sheba’s paintings, photographs and 3D art also on display within the gallery space.
An engaging visit, Simply Spiritual will run through until the end of August, 2018.
- InterstellART (Nice Atoll, rated: Moderate)