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.