Jo Ellen Byrnes first began working with mandalas as a psychologist through expressive art therapy. Noting their energetic and spiritual significance, the experience inspired the Laguna resident and artist to draw from her intimate communion with nature and begin designing her own works of art.
Mandala — Sanskrit for "circle" — is a form of art used cross-culturally in spiritual teachings, meditation and to create sacred space. The traditional form is a square with four gates encompassing a circle with a center point of focus.
Two years ago, Byrnes launched Laguna Beach Mandalas, a collection that she says captures the essence of Laguna within a spiritual geometric mandala that is psychedelic Impressionist metaphorical realism.
"My work is reminiscent of the 1960s and '70s, bringing people back to that old energy of Laguna, when they could relax and have fun and it was cool to be here," she said.
Her use of bright, vibrant colors, she said, induces aliveness and energy in people, creating a spirit of hopefulness, much like they did 40 years ago when there was so much turmoil in the world.