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Mandala. Courtesy photo.




“A to Z: Art to Zen”

Where: Twiggs Gallery, 254 King St., Boscawen, 796-2899, twiggsgallery.wordpress.com
When: May 7 through June 12; opening reception Thursday, May 12, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Free mandala-making workshop, book signing: Saturday, May 14, from 1 to 3 p.m., Kathryn Costa will teach how to create mandalas and sign The Mandala Guidebook
SoulCollage demo: Saturday, May 28, from 1 to 3 p.m.; Anne Boedecker will give a demo on creating SoulCollage, an expressive art developed by psychotherapist Seena Frost




Zen art
Twiggs showcases meditative artwork in “A to Z”

05/12/16
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



 Though many artists and art therapists will tell you art can be meditative, the subject is rarely explored in formal exhibitions — most New Hampshire galleries emphasize the result of art-making, their shows curated based on the product, not the process.

But Laura Morrison, gallery manager at Twiggs Gallery, felt the idea had an audience, particularly after the 2015 craze for adult coloring books, which participants often say is incredibly relaxing.
“Anyone can color. It’s so non-threatening, and you end up with a beautiful product in the end,” Morrison said. “I think people were craving a meditative project like that. … And this got me thinking about art and meditation in general.”
She thought about Manchester artist Kathryn Costa, a mixed media artist who created a community around mandala art. Then she thought about Anne Boedecker, a mixed media collage artist from the Concord area who facilitates SoulCollage workshops around the state. When she offered the idea to local artists, they were intrigued.
“They had never been approached with this particular twist for a show,” Morrison said. 
 “A to Z: Art to Zen” is on view at Twiggs Gallery May 7 through June 12 and showcases work by seven artists whose contemplative practices inform their life, work and, most importantly, artwork. It contains Asian brush painting by Bruce Iverson and Sally Gordon Shea, mixed media by Hari Kirin and Julie Püttgen, Zentangle by Bette Abdu, collage by Boedecker and mandala art by Costa.
For Costa, the show happens at the same time as her book release, The Mandala Guidebook: How to Draw, Paint and Color Expressive Mandala Art, inspired by her 100 Mandalas challenge, an online movement she leads via her website and a podcast inviting artists and non-artists to create 100 mandalas in 100 days. She started the project in 2014 and today has followers all over the world, including in Switzerland, Serbia, South Africa, Canada, France and Spain. She has six mandalas in the show made from acrylic and mixed media.
Costa, a graphic designer by day, stumbled on the form 18 years ago while teaching at Kearsarge Regional High School via a faculty member who studied art therapy in school. She never turned back; she’s in the midst of continuing her mandala studies under Susanne Fincher, a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist. It’s the shape of the mandala, she said, that contributes to the meditation resulting in making it, whether drawn or colored.
“Your traditional mandalas have repeating shapes and patterns that radiate from the center. People express to me, when they have anxiety or are going through a grieving process, they find creating patterns is more centering for them. … That ties in with what Carl Jung was saying — there’s a feeling of center and balance inherent in the form,” Costa said via phone. “Some approach [mandala art] for relaxation and enjoy coloring them. Some people get into the art form with this idea of exploring it and using it as a form of self-expression and healing. … It lulls the person because your attention is on the coloring or the drawing and you’re not thinking about the stressful stuff.”
Boedecker, who’s also a psychologist by day, echoed this idea. 
“All art can be meditative, but the things that are particularly meditative are things with repetition,” Boedecker said. “The simpler the art form, the more meditative it is.”
Boedecker took up SoulCollage more than 10 years ago during a collage workshop at the Andover Newton Theological School, then at a SoulCollage workshop in western Massachusetts. The art form, founded by Seena B. Frost in the late ’80s, involves combining found objects — paper, cut-out magazine pictures — on 5-inch by 8-inch note cards. 
“It’s one of those things where you discover it, and if it speaks to you, it really takes hold. … I’d done quilting but I didn’t consider myself an artist back then. … You cut and paste and glue, and you work intuitively,” Boedecker said. “And it’s basically kind of a self-exploration. … I liked the retreat so much, the next year, I did the facilitator training in Santa Cruz, California, with Seena.”
She too said it fit with psychology theories, and she often hosts workshops or makes SoulCollages with clients to spread the love. The last week of May, she’ll present a SoulCollage workshop for visitors to try out. Morrison hopes for high attendance at both Costa’s and Boedecker’s demonstrations after the opening.
“One of the other ideas I had behind this exhibition was … to make art more accessible for everyone,” Morrison said. 





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