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.

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