Students learn art is about the process, not the gallery space
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Despite taking three days to thoughtfully construct a sand mandala, Geshe Lobsang Tsultrim took a small broom on the fourth day and swept his work away.
The process by Tsultrim, a visiting Tibetan Buddhist monk, served as a lesson to a group of art students from South Tahoe High School that art is about the process, not whether it ends up in a gallery.
“As an artist, we do artwork for ourselves, and what happens to our artwork afterwards is not as important as the creation of it,” said art teacher Candi Lincoln. “The creation of the mandala is a whole process, part of the whole experience.”
Tsultrim, the director of the Thubten Dhargye Ling center for the study of Buddhism and Tibetan culture in Long Beach, explained that the ancient Tibetan art form is constructed as a vehicle to generate compassion and realize the impermanence of reality.
Tsultrim pointed to the April 14 earthquake in a Tibetan region of China that killed 2,200 according to recent estimates. The day before the quake, the residents were going about their lives, making plans for the coming days, without the knowledge that the next day their lives would be thrown into upheaval.
“We have so many attachments … when you die you can’t take a single thing,” Tsultrim said.
“You need food, you need clothes or you will be cold, you need a place to live, but do you need a great big house with a gate?
“Our lives are very short,” he added. “Therefore, impermanence is very important for how we live and the foundation for your (spiritual) practice.”
Jake Rodiguez, 17, said the concept of impermanence is part of his work as an urban street artist. He may paint a wall, but the art may be covered within hours.
“When you go out and paint a wall, it’s just about the fact that you’re getting it out,” Rodiguez said.
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