Community Mandala

MAY 2000 / ANACORTES, WA, USA / Bailey Cunningham

Creating a Group Mandala:
Teaching Unity, not Uniformity

This Community Quilt Mandala was created by three 5th grade classes at Mt. Erie Elementary School in Anacortes, Washington, USA. This collective art project is a "warm up" exercise used in Mandala Project workshops to introduce students to the idea of joining with others to create something beautiful, as well as practice coloring techniques and color theory. It is a wonderful example of art that is created from a central theme, in which artists maintain their individuality while unifying to create something larger than themselves.

The title of the quilt is "Unity, not Uniformity."

The Objective

  • To teach students the importance of both individuality and unity - we don't need to be the same to do good things in the world
  • To learn how we can join together with others for a common purpose, while maintaining our identity
  • To appreciate what everyone has to offer and recognize that each person is an important part of the whole of humanity
  • To create mini-mandalas to be used as patchwork pieces for a collective art piece
  • To introduce students to the concept of a collective art piece
  • To have fun!

The Lesson

After the general presentation of the mandala, students participated in a "warm-up" exercise by coloring in 4" mandalas of various designs, all of which are symmetrical and kaleidoscopic in structure.

Colored mandalas were cut in half, then one half was passed to the student on their right, so that each student had half of their own mandala, and half of another's mandala.

Students then created a "new" mandala using both halves. Each half was cut into four pie pieces (eight total) and pasted alternately onto a piece of colored construction paper of their choice.

The finished mandalas were collected along with strips of paper with each student's name. Sometimes I take the pieces home to create the quilt myself, then return to surprise the students with the creation. Some classes like to participate in the quilt creation process themselves - either way, it's a fun project for everyone involved.

This project can also be adapted for use in younger classes by creating more simplified quartered mandalas instead of eighths. It is a variation on the Friendship Mandala described in: Mandala: Journey to the Center.

Community Lesson Plan:
The Lesson Plan for this project is available for purchase at where you will find other mandala lesson plans and products as well.