Monks at the museum |

Monks at the museum

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times
Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monestary will create a mandala sand painting at the Aspen Art Museum beginning Saturday, July 11.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

What: Opening Ceremony

When: Saturday, July 11, noon

Where: Aspen Art Museum

Cost: Free

What: ‘The Symbolism of the Mandala,’ lecure by Geshe Lobsang Tenzin

When: Tuesday, July 14, 5 p.m.

Where: Aspen Art Museum

Cost: Free

What: Closing Ceremony

When: Wednesday, July 15, noon

Where: Aspen Art Museum

Cost: Free

The Aspen Art Museum is hosting an event to engage with Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery who will create a temporary mandala sand painting on the museum’s rooftop deck as part of their annual Aspen visit.

Visitors can watch the creation of the artwork during regular museum hours, beginning with the opening ceremony at noon today, when the monks consecrate the site through chants, music and the recitation of a mantra before drawing the outline of the mandala design.

The public also can join the monks and other members of the public at noon Wednesday for a closing ceremony procession to the Roaring Fork River, when the monks dismantle the mandala by sweeping its colored sands into an urn to symbolize the brevity of life. By tradition, half of the sand will be dispersed into a nearby source of flowing water according to the belief that it promotes healing energies worldwide upon reaching the sea; the remaining half is given to audience members with the intention of fostering health and well-being.

The intricate, colored-sand mandala, meaning “sacred cosmogram” in Sanskrit, represents an artistic tradition of Tantric Buddhism whose creation is said to bring purification and healing. To craft the mandala, monks pour millions of grains of sand on a flat platform using traditional metal funnels, forming a complex design composed of traditional prescribed iconography, geometric shapes and ancient spiritual symbols.

The mandala will measure approximately 5 feet by 5 feet when completed. The monks have displayed mandalas in museums across the country, including the Arthur Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C.; the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago; the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts; the Indianapolis Museum of Art; the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas; and the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton, Alberta.