About the Artist
Sarah Queblatin has been using the mandala as her artistic medium since 2008 inspired by her own experience with art therapy and from her work in interfaith and intercultural dialogue. For ten years, her life-work has been growing roots and wings in the fields of community based, transformative, and sacred arts while working for non-profits and movements advocating cultural heritage, environmental education, peace building, and relief work.
Sarah learned her studio arts skills while working under the Art Education Program of Ayala Museum in the Philippines from 2003-2006. She was trained under the field of Transformative Arts under the BuildaBridge Institute in the United States in 2009 where she currently serves as member of its International Advisory Council. In 2011, she started taking her Masters in Expressive Arts for Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding at the European Graduate School in Switzerland. On her second year, she paused her studies to explore how peace and environmental issues can be integrated after doing relief work for the children survivors of Hurricane Washi.
Through her module design outfit Create EartHeart, she is walking an integral path of using the mandala on various levels from arts relief into regenerative community design. The project currently generates community art modules for Project Rainbow and Mandala Earth Initiative (formerly Green Releaf), two projects she co-founded and co-manages.
Project Rainbow is a creative zero waste campaign through segregator bin, MRF and urban garden design projects for city-based ecological solid waste management initiatives in partnership with the Philippine Climate Change Commission, Ecowaste Coalition, and other non-profits advocating the Zero Waste framework. The project was inspired by the hope rainbows bring and how many indigenous cultures look at the next 7 generations for every action they make.
Mandala Earth Initiative used to be a whole-systems designed sustainable relief and rehabilitation response to disaster affected communities. It is now expanding to settings beyond disaster like the Mountain Province’s waste problem inspired by the work of the Transition Town Movement. The initiative is the Transition Community Support Program of Maia Earth Village, an ecovillage in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan where the artist resides.
In 2012, Sarah and her work with mandalas as a medium for arts relief, rituals, and community building with children, communities, and leaders was recognized by the Arts and Healing Network, a global network of healing artists around the world through its Honoring the Next Generation Award.
Mandala Earth Story is a 5-year old dream that started as the artist’s intention to study under the sacred artists and wisdom bearers of the mandalas around the world applying it to community art projects for ecological restoration and/or conflict transformation. The dream is still the same yet the artist’s life-work experience has been and continues to be enriched in sacred service to the circle of life.
To view Sarah’s Portfolio and Curriculum Vitae, visit: http://www.createartheart.org
A 5-year old Dream Unfolds
Carl Jung, the visionary psychologist who tapped into the wisdom of the sacred circles or mandalas of different traditions and practices around the world used the circle on his therapy patients as a way of connecting back to resilience and wholeness. All spiritual traditions and teachings around the world talk about the mandala on a transcendental scale that helps us understand the infinity and vastness of the scope of creation and our part in it. As an artist, healer, advocate, and a student of life, I continue to learn how these are true to my experience while on this earth story journey.
Looking back, this mandala journey began with a lucid dream or a vision. I was 6 years old and I was on a trip from my birthplace to Manila, my country's capital. While on the balcony of the boat under the sun, I saw an iceberg out on the ocean under more than 30 degrees celsius of tropical heat afloat on the vast blue ocean. It will be a few years later that I will learn about the melting of ice caps and extreme weather conditions in school and in the news.
As I grew older, I met so many teachers, shamans, and healers who taught me that this planet is Earth School, a school to learn about ourselves and our entire journey as human beings, a beautiful mix of spirit and matter realizing and evolving its true purpose of becoming.
When I was 24, I was on another ship. This time on a journey about a reality called climate change on the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior on a campaign on renewable energy around the time when the United Nations added another term to classify the displacement of peoples. Apart from war and genocide, the world had to recognise an alarmingly rising problem of climate refugees.
Fast forward to today in 2013 when this mandala journey begins, Manila is now #2 in the World's Climate Change Vulnerability Index. For many years, we have been going up and down this global scale's top 10, just like the nature of this phenomenon aptly worded with "change." Yet despite the destruction and transformation it brings about, it was also the very thing that was constant that brought openings for healing and deeper understanding of who we are and why we are here.
After this experience. I quit my art education job at Ayala Museum and joined two environmental NGOs. I worked for the Moonrise Festival for the the Center for Environmental Awareness and Education to help promote the story of environment and culture. A year after, I joined Mother Earth Foundation to bring zero waste management in every household and local government. On the side, seeds have been planted on learning about the earth based belief and practice of the indigenous peoples and how it is relevant to this time.
I eventually had to stop working for awhile when I was 26 that helped me encounter the mandala as part of a change process on a personal and collective level. I used this while undergoing art therapy to self - heal from trauma. Inspired by its powerful gift to unite many parts as a whole, I used it as a medium and process for my study under the UNEP Eco - Peace Leadership program on using community based art to help bring about ecological consciousness before a community enters a livelihood project out of residual waste. Later on I found myself working for an international organisation called United Religions Initiative, a global network of grassroots cooperation circles working for dialogue among faiths and religions to prevent religiously motivated violence. A mandala journey around the world starting in the Philippines was being conceived during this period.
This journey was postponed further as I started working for peace building in response the Mindanao conflict for 3 years culminating to a mandala ritual with children and the Philippine President to resume the peace talks between the government and rebel groups in 2011. My last non-profit involvement was another boat ride to Cagayan de Oro city to work on arts relief based psycho-social support for survivors of the deadly Hurricane Washi in 2012 under Kids for Peace Foundation and Save the Children. Up to this point, my circling experience was becoming wider and wider and it reached a point of a much needed involution to go into the direction of working on the circle within me. I grew tired of the output based nature of advocacy work and was looking for the keys to true transformation that is usually unseen in the systematic and structured process of social change.
In 2012, I had to let go of my 4 year dream of setting off on a mandala global path to study under the wisdom bearers of this sacred art and translate it to community building to find the mandala within me. My integration of art within the earth and heart had to blossom naturally within the pace of the earth.
Before I turned 30, I left city life and moved to an intentional community in Palawan, the Philippines' last frontier. Maia Earth Village, a member of the Global Ecovillage Network, was home to rediscovering the deep connection with the earth we only had to remember through the practice of sacred simplicity and conscious energy management. I lived in a home built out of mud and bottles running on solar panels and harvested my meals from a permaculture - designed garden. There, I reconnected myself back to the wisdom of my body and the wisdom of the earth in an inseparable process of knowing, being, and doing. The ecovillage itself was designed using the mandala using permaculture principles and an energetic healing process called Inner Dance.
The I-Ching says that what really belongs to you will always be yours even if you throw it away. Earth teachings and the wisdom of the Sacred Feminine tell us that conception and birthing only takes place when the right conditions are in place. Now, I can say the journey is ripe enough to be given birth to. I only had to come to a place of readiness and integration of my inner and outer circles. I had to experience the many realities of my inner world and the conditions of the outer world to help me arrive at the key questions that the journey intends to rediscover, understand, and embody:
After all, it is through the questions, the quest truly begins. It is when we see the mirror or spirit of a question mark beside it, it forms a key. When a key is formed, doors can be opened to step into a journey.