The lobby of AHRC New York City Headquarters is currently adorned with an exhibition of artwork recently created by people receiving services through EBS Brooklyn. The exhibit, Mandala, captures the creative expressions of artists who have learned to use symbols and geometry to manifest their own unique spirits, through nine colorful canvases. The artists participating in the exhibit are Arianny AlvarezDouglas DawkinsJarod EllisJenisa InoaAmaris JarvisSamantha KnightsDominique Lark BiggsOnaisia McKoyKeron RobertsonShana Sommerman, and Nefertiri Smalls.

Creative Process

With guidance from Art Specialist, Ruth Cisse, the artists learned some new skills as they created their mandalas. The first step in the exercise was for each artist to think about this and his/her own unique spirits. As they meditated (mandalas are commonly used as an aid to meditation), they drew further inspiration from soothing music and aromatherapy. Working both individually and collaboratively, the artists prepared their canvases with underpaintings, then used compasses and rulers to measure and divide the canvases into symmetrical shapes.

Adding to the geometric patterns of their designs, the artists tore tissue paper and fixed the small colorful pieces to the canvas surfaces, adding detail with carefully shaded colored pencils.  Finally, they used paint pens to enhance the contrast of their creations.

About Mandalas

Historically, mandalas have been created to be metaphysical representations of the cosmos, and/or aspects of human consciousness.  Because the process is so closely tied to personal meditation, the act of creating a mandala often results in providing balance and inner peace to the person who is creating it. They are spiritually-based and most commonly associated with eastern religious practice.

In order for these mandalas to truly represent each artist’s own spirit, the artists were tasked with using symbols to illustrate their inner-selves.


As a part of the exhibit, each mandala is accompanied by a short description of the work, written by the artists. A few are included below:

­­”It represents peace, harmony, and love.  It represents me as a person who is not afraid to say that I’m lovely and I can do anything if I put my mind to it.”

Samantha Knights

(description from the mandala work, Sam Lovely, 2016)

My painting says ‘peace’ in all different languages. I hope people feel peaceful when they see it.”

Arianny Alvarez

(description from the mandala work, Peace, 2016)

I feel happy when I look at this painting. Purple is my favorite color.  Gold is great. The center reminds me of a coin. I want people to feel happy when they see it.”

– Shana Sommerman

(description from the collaborative mandala work, Linking Lotuses, 2016)

Flowers make me feel happy. I hope my painting makes others feel empowered to draw. The lotus is a flower that blooms in the mud. The deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus blooms.”

– Jenisa Inoa

(description from the collaborative mandala work, Linking Lotuses, 2016)

Mandala will remain on view in the lobby of AHRC NYC Headquarters through the end of October.