“Whoever loves and understands a garden will find contentment within.” ~ Chinese Proverb
We are all part of nature. But somewhere down the line due to our ‘chosen’ busy lives we lose that connection with nature. We drift apart forgetting that nature nourishes our soul and spirit, which is equally important. Its never too late to reconnect with the Earth.
The magnificent creations of Kathy Klein, a Arizona-based artist, revives that lost connection with nature and its eternal mystery.
A devout lover of nature, Kathy creates stunning compositions known as danmalas: in sanskrit ‘dan’ means giver and ‘mala’ is a garland of flowers. Danmala is a giving of flower circles.
They resemble mandalas and while making it, she centers herself in a meditative devotional space. Danmalas are reflections of the inexpressible, a gesture which points towards life’s abundance, and reminds us all to listen to the unheard voice of nature and creation.
How did it all begin?
The danmalas originally came about when I sincerely asked the Spirit for a way to give loving service to all beings and create abundance in all parts of my life (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual).
I have been making mandalas “forever”, as far back as I can remember…I have always “doodled” in this way since I was a child and in the past 13 years, I have especially preferred radial symmetry over all other formats. When I create any design on our property or in our home, a mosaic or a painting, I do it in a mandala shape.
And I have been creating “earthworks” forever as well, playing in the dirt and mud and clay with sticks and leaves, making sculptures on the beach out of the day’s findings, building water dams in the gutter of our suburban street, making fairy houses in my childhood backyard….of course every child starts out this way, with nature as their palette and I don’t remember ever stopping.
The first danmala manifested more than 5 years ago, I wanted to capture the colors and diversity of all of the peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes we grew that summer at our farm. So, I collected the last of the harvest, sorted everything by color, and then woke up very early before the sun rises over our little canyon, to make the first danmala, out of all the purple eggplants.
I had envisioned it in meditation for about a week before I made it, I knew “it was coming”:) it seemed completely natural to arrange all of the beautiful vegetables we had grown in a sacred circle, it felt like I was writing a big “thank you note” to the Divine and to Mother Earth, and after I made these first danmalas, I couldn’t stop!!! Every day I roamed our property looking for flowers and leaves to play with and make more offerings to the Spirit.
What has been your inspiration behind creating such beautiful mandalas?
My inspiration comes through my inner practice. Throughout each day my attention is drawn within and focused on the eye and ear of the Soul. My mantra is used only to center my mind until it becomes still and then hearing and seeing is clear.
Do you create rough sketches before you go on to make these intricate circles or is it spontaneous?
No, I just gather the flowers and let it happen intuitively.
How long does it take you to make a mandala?
Anywhere from 1-8 hours depending on gathering them and the intricacy involved. Sometimes I make a quick one in 20 minutes because of time or weather constraints, but usually its a much longer process.
I don’t ever notice the time passing, its my favorite part of the day!
Do you travel to different places to get the different types of flora?
Not purposefully, but I have travelled a lot and get to experience many different types of indigenous plants wherever I go.
What kind of flowers you generally look for in this practice?
I don’t really “look” they are just there; but certain flowers have shapes, hardiness, color changes that are better for the work.
Here are some of my favorite flowers in general: to make danmalas with, probably alstroemeria because there are about 4 different petal shapes you can play with and they are so hardy and stand up to heat and dryness which is important.
Dahlias are so beautiful to use because each petal is a multi-toned brush stroke. Also have a very iridescent quality to them. Also chrysanthemum is so powerful and strong and lasts long, comes in every color and size and petal shape etc. I feel really healthy when I touch them!
My favorite flowers to see in nature or landscaping are:
Gazanias, they have unbelievable colors and crazy stripes!
Roses, jasmine, gardenia, lavender…the SMELLS!!!
Echinacea and sunflowers! deep color.
Love in a mist is otherworldly…
Passion flowers which still look like they are from another planet to me!
All wild flowers make my heart smile. In Arizona, penstemons in all colors, bright red Indian paintbrush, and the clear yellow petals and grey blue leaves of desert marigold are my favorite plants to see along the highways.All winter long, pansies make me feel so grateful! I don’t know how they do it! They can be covered in ice in the morning and in the afternoon they are holding their faces high in the sunlight. so much joy and so delicate looking but incredibly resilient! I hope I didn’t leave anyone out! 🙂
What effect do mandalas have on our consciousness?
I see mandalas whenever I close my eyes. They come to me in meditation and during my inner travels. The first organic life forms on the planet have arisen in the form of mandalas. Mandalas are deeply embedded in our collective consciousness as they can be used to describe all of Creation and are a reflection of the Sacred which is inherently present in nature’s perfect geometry.