Monday, September 24, 2012

Goddard Mandalas Series

 U. C.'s Goddard Mandalas, 2012
United Catalysts, aka Kim and Steve are working on yet another exciting Skywheel Drawing Series for the upcoming touring exhibition. This series is inspired by a visit to the archives of early rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard at the Roswell Museum and Art Center in Roswell, New Mexico- the same visit that, a few years back, inspired the idea of the Skywheel Project itself!

American physicist and inventor Robert Goddard is credited with creating, building and launching the world's first liquid-fueled rocket (March 16, 1926).  He wrote and published several scientific writings beginning in 1907 and launched 36 of his rockets from 1926-1941. Though met by skepticism in his time, his discoveries are now recognized as revolutionary milestones towards space flight and he has been named one of the fathers of modern rocketry.

an Original Goddard Patent Diagram
The Roswell Museum archives have a collection of over one hundred patents that Goddard had for rocket apparati. Included in these diagrams are seventy-seven patent drawings that happen to take the form of mandalas, a universal sacred art form.  Kim and Steve were interested in seeing how these beautiful and universal shapes that are used in meditation by many cultures are also reflected in scientific drawings pertaining to space travel.

For those who are unfamiliar, a mandala is a design that follows three basic rules: 1) they radiate outward from a central point 2) they use basic, universal shapes to create their structure and 3) they are symmetrical. The word mandala is Sanskrit, and means "whole world" or "healing circle." The five basic shapes are the circle, square, triangle, cross and spiral, and they may be used very literally or stylistically. (You may recall an earlier Skywheel Blog post detailing the symbolism of the Sacred Circle.)

Tibetan Buddhist Mandala

The drawings in this new Goddard Mandalas Series are a collaboration between the original Goddard patent drawings and the traditional form of the mandala as seen in many different variations reflecting different world cultures. Traditional mandalas are found in Navajo Sand Paintings, Tibetan Thangka Paintings and in the famous Rose Window at Chartres Cathedral, just to name a few examples. Other forms of mandalas can be found in Alchemical diagrams and Astronomical texts, which should not be surprising as mandalas are about creating order in nature, as seen in the structure of atoms and the structure of heavenly bodies in the universe.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Skywheel Over Sacred Mountains

Kim and Steve have been hard at work in the studio creating a series of mixed media drawings entitled Skywheel Over Sacred Mountains. When complete, these drawings will be featured in upcoming Skywheel Project exhibitions.

This series depicts the many spiritual traditions around the world by creating reverent portraits of mountains that are sacred to different cultures. The images of the mountains are paired with images of the night sky, and feature key constellations and stars that have cultural and spiritual significance to the peoples who inhabit the surrounding land.

I'd like to offer a glimpse into the Skywheel studio, with the first completed work in this series, Mount Fuji.

 Skywheel Over Mt. Fuji 

Mount Fuji is one of Japan's Three Holy Mountains and is the tallest mountain in the country. It has been regarded as a sacred site since ancient times, first to the Ainu, Japan's Indigenous people, and later as the home of Shintoist and Buddhist deities.

Today, it is a popular site for tourists and pilgrims alike, many of whom trek in the dark to experience the beauty of a glorious sunrise from the summit. A Japanese proverb asserts (not verbatim) that "You are a fool if you never climb Mt. Fuji, and an even bigger fool if you climb it more than once."

In this image, Mount Fuji is depicted with Zen Buddhist constellations. You may recognize part of the constellation Orion, which Zen Buddhists envision as a drum.

References and related sites of interest:
Sacred Mountains of the World, by Edwin Bernbaum