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Talking with Chris Flisher about the Astrological Mandala

posted Mar 27, 2010, 6:33 AM by Annalisa Ippolito   [ updated Mar 27, 2010, 8:17 AM ]
Chris Flisher is a contemporary North American mandala artist.  We met last year during the "International Symposium on the Mandala" in Rome, Italy. He says that his work “looks to bridge the past with the future."  He adds that using contemporary themes, subjects, and symbols allows the mandala to continue its vital role as a reflective artistic expression for the modern world. He has found the colors and the geometrical shapes allow him to express beauty and truth in a manner that other art forms prevent.  Flisher is also an astrologer and draws on the natural cyclical rhythms of the universe to imbue his art within the historical context of time. 

Annalisa: Chris, when did you see mandala for the first time? 
Chris: I was always aware of the mandala since being a young child.  I was always fascinated by line, angle, degree and architectural forms.  I remember being about 20 years old when the first real solid vision of the mandala came to me.  I saw the imagery and relevance and immediately knew how important and central it was to me as an artist.  

A: And how and when did you become interested in astrology? 
C: Around the same age (20) I met an older woman who asked me my birth date, time and place.  For some reason I knew all of those requirements and I told her.  Most people know where they were born and, of course, the date, but few (at the time) knew the actual time of birth.  I had a copy of my birth certificate and I was able to provide the time as well.  The next day this woman came back to me with the most accurate description of me that I had ever heard.  The details and characteristics were spot on.  My strengths and weaknesses were all spelled out with clear, concise logic.  I was amazed.  Here, a perfect stranger knew more about me than anyone had ever known.  I was fascinated from that point forward. 

A: How did you start the experience of creating astrological mandalas? 
C: If you have ever seen an astrology chart you will see it immediately.  It is a circle with all of the signs of the zodiac lined up like the face of a clock.  Each sign occupies a slice of the circle.  Staring with Aries and ending with Pisces, the zodiac is a mandala.  So the connection was obvious to me.  Astrology uses the birth data to illustrate the unique characteristics of the individual.  Once I saw the connection between these two very powerful symbols, the rest was easy for me and I immediately fell into the process. 

A: What is the most common mistake about this kind of approach to mandala? 
C: I really see no mistakes in this at all.  The only possibility of a mistake would come from inaccurate birth data.  When drawing up the chart for an individual, the accuracy of the birth data is critical.  Without that accuracy it is hard to get a real picture of the person.  That is the only real area for a problem.  Astrology charts can be drawn up for any person or event, so the accuracy of the data is key.  I use charts for individuals as well as for worldly events and concepts.  World events affect all of us.  They are called mundane, not because they are insignificant, but because they are astrological aspects that affect all people at the same time.  This is evident throughout time when you look back at the cycles of events in history. 

A: What is the primary goal of your combining astrology, spirituality and self-expression? 
C: Since I firmly believe that astrology is the clearest, most accurate representation of individual character, the connection is very clear to me.  The soul's purpose and path are clearly depicted in the zodiac chart.  If a person uses that information, the pathway to personal expression and purpose are very obvious.  The act of creating the mandala then becomes a task of mapping your life journey.  It becomes a guide to your discovery of self and soul. 

A: What is your favorite techniques to make mandala? 
C: Since I have a background in architecture, I can see the logic of geometry and divine symmetry in the mandala.  The angles and degrees represent the form and function of time and place.  They are the foundation of the universe, in my belief, so I naturally start out with a circle.  That forms the container for my thoughts and expression.  The work evolves from that central geometrical figure.  The circle is similar to a womb which is a universal theme shared by all species and events.  There is always a beginning and an end.  The circle becomes the container for the thoughts of the work.  The circle is the basis for the work, in the same manner as a canvas. 

Could you give some suggestions for opening the door of mandala for other people? Or better yet, could you tell us about your video “Mandala: Spirit in Art”? 
C: My video shows the process.  I think is a good place to start.  At some point you must start, and creating a circle sets the stage for that process.  Once the circle is drawn you can begin to let your thoughts unfold and develop.  The video illustrates the process of adding shapes, symbols, and concepts.  In this particular case I am using the mandala as a container for cross-cultural themes.  When I combine symbols of diverse cultures, I sort of force them to get along since they occupy the same space.  It is my way of saying, "OK , now behave."  Unity can only come when all cultures exist side by side without controversy or aggression.  Oneness is one of my primary messages.  I have a Star of David and an Hindu OM symbol wrapped around each other in my video.  These are not two symbols that typically exist together, but by placing them together in the mandala they are in harmony.  That theme resonates throughout my work since I see that an essential part of human evolution. We have to get along, no matter what. 

A: It is this video connected with your book “Mandala: Spirit In Art” ? Could share with us some more about your book? 
C: Yes, all my work is connected.  Whether it is astrology, architecture, or mandalas, they all support each other.  The book is a recollection of my experience with the mandala.  I give each of my mandalas a title and a story. The book is a collection of over 50 works.  Each mandala has a theme, story, or poem.  These extra elements further define the work.  The title identifies the theme of the work, and the story supports my throught process and logic for the creation.  I fuse cross-cultural, pan-global themes that help to contemporize this ancient art form within the modern context of society. 

A: Who is or has been an inspiration for you? 
C: As a basic foundation, one of my biggest influences is Carl Jung who worked extensively with the mandala as a therapeutic tool for self-discovery.  Jung was also very well versed in astrology, so he was a natural influence for me.  I am also heavily influenced by the work of architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.  His appreciation for line, angle, and form combine in what I see as perfect harmony.  My third biggest influence is Vincent Van Gogh.  His love of color and randomness resonate in my work.  I love color and, even though typical mandalas have a sense of  perfection, mine tend to be more flawed, simply because I am flawed, as are all humans.  In that regard, the work is more organic and human.  Interestingly enough, I recently discovered, all three of my influences are the sons of spiritual men.  Each of them came from a spiritual foundation as the sons of ministers.  What fascinated me was I, too, am the son of a minister. 

A: Could you share some words about the experience in Radio Broadcast? 
C: My weekly radio show, "Turning Of The Wheel" is an exploration of art, astrology and spiritual adventure.  I invite experts and authors, astrologers and artists on the show for conversations about all topics that share a connection.  I regularly discuss astrology, art, divine symmetry, life, metaphysics, death and just about any concept that helps people cope with change and evolution.  My show is a free podcast and is available on iTunes as a podcast (search in the iTunes store for "Chris Flisher") or download from my website www.chrisflisher.com under Radio Archives. 

A: What are your next projects? 
C: I continually try to expand my circle.  I am always looking for opportunities to bring the message of the mandala to others.  I regularly teach classes on mandalas and
astrology and I help guide people to discover their true purpose and path.  My goal is to take this project and message to a much wider audience so that all can understand the logic and purpose we all share as humans.  This is a message of oneness and co-existence.  Aggression and intolerance are not worthwhile uses of our short time on earth. 

A: Many thanks to share your experiences and peace. 
C: Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to express my purpose and share with you. 

To read more about the Astrological Mandala of Chris visit his websitehttp://www.chrisflishermandalas.com/index.html

To read more about work of Chris visit his website 

Here an interesting interview of Chris with Judith Cornell - Mandalas