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KU Art Professor Uses Sugar to Create Modern Mandala at Reading Public Museum

May 29, 2012

Gong Front Kutztown University assistant professor of fine arts, Jiawei Gong, uses traditional Tibetan sand mandala-making techniques to create a contemporary symbol at "Sweet Salvation," an exhibition at the Reading Public Museum, June 2-July 8.

The Sand Mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and destruction of mandalas made from colored sand. Instead of sand, Gong will use various types of sugar in his creation. The mandala is ritualistically destroyed once it has been completed and its accompanying ceremonies and viewing are finished to symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life.

Born and raised in China, Gong often incorporates modern symbols in his art. "I draw my inspiration from my daily life and cultural background. Traditional Chinese philosophy and literature serve as a dominant and informative resource for my artwork." The modern symbol sugar-mandala is a prime example of this combination of the modern and traditional.

The public is invited to watch Gong create this symbol in-person or, when he is not in the museum, see recorded footage of him creating the mandala in the gallery. The symbol will take approximately two weeks to complete and the video will be displayed for the remainder of the installation's stay at The Museum.

For more information, please contact The Reading Public Museum at 610-371-5850 x 231. For a time-lapse video of a mandala being created: