Justice Mandala II

  • Teen muralists explored the aesthetics of traditional mandala designs and developed new mandalas for the Brooklyn Detention Complex.
  • The mandala designs echo and expand on the theme of restorative justice first begun in the 2011 Groundswell mural, "Justice Mandala."
  • The team starts painting its design onto parachute cloth, a sturdy fabric that can be installed onto brick walls.
  • Groundswell peer leaders participated in the mandala fabrication and acted as mentors to new youth.
  • The team was particularly inspired by the importance of unconditional respect in restorative justice.
  • The layered portraiture set in to a lotus flower design promotes unity.

Project Description

In spring 2013, court-involved youth participating in Groundswell’s Segue program partnered with the New York City Department of Correction to complete a series of Tibetan mandalas for the exterior of the Brooklyn Detention Complex in Downtown Brooklyn. These mandalas complemented and extended the 2011 Groundswell mural “Justice Mandala.” During the design of the mandalas, Segue youth researched restorative justice: the act of seeking solutions that repair, reconcile, and rebuild relationships. They also visited the Rubin Museum to learn more about the art and art techniques of the Himalayas. Inspired by the artwork viewed, the young people returned to the studio to explore what they’d learned through a series of contemporary mandalas. Throughout the project, Groundswell peer leaders participated in the mandala fabrication and helped train new youth on the techniques, methodologies, and theories behind mural construction and public art.
In the first mandala, compassion and unity are promoted through the use of layered portraiture set in to a lotus flower design. The second mandala continues this motif using layered portraiture, the butterfly, and keys. The circle of life is depicted through peaceful textures of sea and sky, framed by the outline of human silhouettes. The keys integrated into this design suggest that we can unlock and access peace and compassion through our thoughts.

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Project Info

Location: 275 Atlantic Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11201

Fun Facts

Question about the Mural
How do the artists create balance and peace in this piece? Do you think that symmetry, geometry, and color palettes communicate the message of restorative justice?
Restorative Justice practices prove promising for youth. Studies performed by the National Center for Juvenile Justice show that recitivism rates significantly decrease for those who've agreed to pay restitution through the Restorative process.
Legend Symbol
Lotus Flower. The lotus flower is beautiful and vibrant despite growing in muddy environments. Because of this quality, the lotus has come to represent purifying one's self and rising above challenges towards enlightenment.