Hope and Justice Mandala
Hope and Justice. Acrylic on wood panel, 2020
My art comes from my heart and flows through my spirit. It is a gift that expresses my inner beliefs and it guides my artistic choices. Looking around me, I cannot help but focus on the issues that speak to me, and to create and share that view.
We are in turmoil over so many issues. In every direction I look, I see upheaval and challenges. But those challenges are also an opportunity to bring about genuine, lasting change.
I rarely speak of politics because it feels so divisive, but today’s issues go beyond politics – it speaks to our very humanity. Politicians try to persuade us to choose sides, telling us it’s either “us” or “them.” Let’s face it, we are all connected – there is no “us” or “them.” There’s just “us,” with each person trying to live their life the best they can.
While Covid-19 threatens our lives, systemic racism threatens our culture. I don’t know where we are headed as a nation, but I don’t think we can pretend racism doesn’t exist by violently suppressing voices crying out for justice. It seems like we are living through the modern-day plagues of the Bible, but we cannot seem to recognize our own sin, even though God is trying desperately to get our attention.
Well, He has mine. That’s why this work is about George Floyd.
For those who may not know his name, he has become a focal point – a symbol of the racist and violent treatment of Blacks and other people of color in our culture and institutions. Unfortunately, it took his death (and those of many others) to reach this level of awareness of the systemic racism in our country.
I decided to create a painting about him because I feel a strong connection to his spirit. I don’t know why or how, but painting mandalas allows me to express what I see in others. It is a translation of my own perceptions into images for others to see and witness. Some people’s spirits come through strongly, and George Floyd’s spirit speaks to me clearly.
I used the colors yellow, blue and green to describe how I see him. Yellow is used to represent hope and spirit. The center of the mandala describes Mr. Floyd’s life, tragically cut short. The yellow ring describes how he transitioned from this physical life into the spirit world.
Do you see how he now shines brightly, free from the chains of this life? He can now shine freely as God intended. His spirit is now so much bigger than before his passing, and we can feel the effects of his spirit’s release.
As a young man, George Floyd once told a friend that he knew he was going to do something that would change the world. And he was right. But that change came about at the cost of his life, and his spirit was released through an unjust act of violence.
I added blue as the color of justice. Blue is woven throughout the center of the mandala, but it never touches his soul here on earth. He did not receive the justice he deserved because of the sin of humanity, but he received his justice in heaven, or the spirit world. That gives me hope.
Green represents the abundance of life here on earth. Our eyes are most sensitive to the color green and it soothes our anxieties. I live in the Pacific Northwest, where everything is green and teeming with life. Even when I attempt to remove unwanted weeds and moss, it always finds a way back. Nature is powerful, and so is what we create while we’re here. I ask myself if I am contributing to improving the world, or to its decline? What am I passing on to the next generation?
George Floyd’s spirit is precious and beautiful. I believe it still exists even though his body is no longer here. His spirit is now boundless, and we can honor him by effecting change in how we treat one another. His life had meaning for many, and his loss represents the need for justice for all.
No one is perfect in this world, but that’s part of being human. We love one another despite our shortcomings and differences. To accept injustice as normal and acceptable degrades us all. Ignoring the pain of suffering of so many, at the hands of those who abuse their power, condones that abuse. I don’t condone it, and I am heartened that many others also do not.
I hold out hope that justice can be achieved, with awareness, tolerance and changing the elements that have allowed these abuses to occur. This is not a new problem, but one that has finally reached the tipping point, where it can no longer be swept under the rug of ignorance or indifference.
It is critical to listen to the voices that speak out about the experience systemic racism. I believe we must hear and acknowledge the problem before true change can be accomplished. George Floyd’s voice was silenced while he cried out for help. Will we dismiss his voice, and others, and continue to respond with aggression and more violence? Or will we listen, explore the root causes and create real change? One option is a tumultuous path of unrest and destruction, while the other can lead to learning and healing.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)