Great article about my Emerging Wisdom Mandala Project!
Letting the Creative Spirit Lead
–by Katherine Hampton, in “Connections,” Spiritual Directors International newsletter, May 2014, Volume 23.1
“I invite you to be curious in your mind and heart about what Wisdom means to you. How do you experience your own wisdom, or what wisdom do you turn to in your daily life? Notice what wise words, stories, memories, or ideas show up. Try paying attention to what wisdom you need in your life right now, or what you’re asking for. What parts of our world need wisdom, and what would you offer to them? See whether any new understandings or insights come your way….”
These were the instructions given to participants in preparation for a creative workshop led by Melanie Weidner, an artist and Spiritual Director in Albuquerque, NM. Melanie led a series of workshops to bring folks together in community and creativity around the question, “What does Wisdom look like?” Participants had the opportunity to listen for whatever wisdom presented itself to them, and then work with various art supplies and fourteen inch wooden circles to create mandalas expressing what they encountered.
In turn, these encounters with wisdom were shared with a larger community. Over the course of four separate workshops, nearly 60 participants created over 80 mandalas and the finished pieces graced the tables of the Emerging Wisdom conference. (The pieces were later returned to the original artists.)
With the wide variety of art supplies provided, no two mandalas look the same. Using a collage technique, each artist added layers to the wooden circle. While they are all unique in texture, style, materials, and color— from string, tissue and magazine images to glitter glue, paint and colored paper – all are perfect. Everyone’s art went in different directions, and all of the expressions are beautiful. It should be noted very few of these participants would have considered themselves artists before these events. One participant revealed, “It means a lot since I did not think I was capable of creating such a meaningful piece.”
The process of the workshop was a lot like spiritual direction – the focus of the art was listening to the Spirit, not forcing something to happen. Participants came in with newspaper clippings, images, and perhaps some notion of what they planned to create. But after listening quietly and letting images and impulses arise in the community of others, most of the artwork did not match the original concept. Rather, wisdom and a fresh vision had emerged.
Collage itself is also a lot like spiritual direction; you start with what you have, and put it out there. One beautiful piece then leads to another in a collage of life. There are messy layers and smooth layers, but the composite of all the pieces is beautifully imperfect. At some point, we arrive at a place that feels, at least for the moment, whole and complete. As one participant said,”So often we go out searching for wisdom then come full circle and find what we need was here all along.”
Melanie is thankful for the beautiful artists who came out to share their gifts with the SDI community. Most of them were unable to attend the conference, yet they were there in spirit. Their art – and wisdom – contributed greatly to the Emerging Wisdom conference.
Read this article in context — Spiritual Directors International “Connections” newsletter, May 2014, Volume 23.1 (It’s on the last three pages.) Thanks also to Holly Bahn for editorial assistance.