“My world is one of abundance. I believe there will always be more than enough. I create this reality by modeling openness, living in a mindful way, and by inspiring others through my own means of honest self-expression; art, writing, teaching & music.”
Over the last five years, visual artist Stephanie Smith has created thousands of mandalas in a diverse range of mixed media as a means to discover her authentic self. She believes that much like any meditative practice, this rhythmic art form has the ability to still the mind and bring into awareness the opportunity for healing and transformative growth at a deep level - effectively allowing a person to take an active role in their personal evolution by making the conscious choice to be creative.
Stephanie not only creates these works of art as a way to encourage personal growth within herself, but also in the participants of her interactive workshop entitled: “Mandala: An Artful Meditation” in which her goal is to encourage creativity without fear of judgment. She has also presented this material to the Intro to Art Therapy class at Cedar Crest College, Allentown, PA, to the South Mountain College students at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, and also at the Baum School of Art in Allentown, PA. Stephanie is currently an artist in residence at The Banana Factory- an arts and education center in Bethlehem, PA.
As a writer, Stephanie is the author of the blog Spiritual Evolution of the Bean - a vast compilation of mandala art, helpful product reviews on a myriad of art and writing supplies, as well as candid reflections on her own spiritual journey. She has been collaborating with her good friend Jim Donovan on his upcoming inspirational memoir, "Serving the Groove" and also pens the Rhodia Drive blog.
Stephanie lives in northeastern Pennsylvania and is married to her husband Jeff of 25 years.
Maṇḍala (मण्डल) is a Sanskrit word meaning “circle”or “whole.”
In Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions, their sacred art often takes on the circular mandala form which in some instances is meant to represent the universe. To me, the mandala is a rhythmic expression of who you are in any given moment of time, often hinting at something bigger.
My mandalas have always started at a center point (which I view as the self) and grow outward in radiating, concentric patterns. Once completed, simple shapes organized in repeated patterns can often be quite revealing when used for contemplation and reflection. I often find that individual elements (shapes or colors) would quite accurately reflect my general mindset at the time of creation. Pieces produced while feeling a particularly strong emotion would often elicit a strong visual response upon it’s completion.
For years, the mandala form has allowed me to create intuitively, with little to no thought connected towards the outcome. By working in a way that was not dependent on quality, it helped me grow confident in my expressions and over time, my lines would be straighter and my circles rounder because whether I knew it or not, I was building the muscle memory with the repetitive nature of my work.
In the beginning, my mandalas were tight and constricted, typically completed in a single session and were created in sketchbooks or on small pieces of paper. I initially created them as line drawings consisting of a single color- often drawn with a fountain pen. Later works are larger, less constricted and are now exploding with color. I found that I was always searching for something opaque that would work on black paper; white gel pens came first, then artist crayons. Bright acrylic paints over black gesso is now one of my favorites, though I am happy to create with whatever motivates me in the moment.
A self professed art supply junkie with no formal training, I use my naiveté to express myself with fierce creativity - I am unafraid to try working with any type of media I think might work to express my chosen form.
The mandala has been my journey and it seemingly has no end. There have been days when I’ve worked one after another in what could be described as compulsive, almost as if trying to manifest some unknown result. What I do know is that through these patterns organized in circular form, I have experienced enormous personal growth. They have allowed me to heal old wounds and discover a long forgotten sense of self. It is for this reason that I so openly share my art with the public and also why I choose to teach my process and tell my stories- so others can benefit from my growth and in turn, receive a tool they can use to grow and transform into their own full, vibrant selves.
Artistic Highlights Include:
◦ 2013 “ACE Group Show” MCS Gallery at The Sigal Museum, Easton, PA
◦ 2013 "At The Edge of Awkward" Group exhibition at The Quadrant Book Mart, Easton, PA
◦ 2013 "South Side Smalls: The Red Collection" In-studio exhibition at The Banana Factory, Bethlehem, PA
◦ 2012 “Photo Show” Curator/participant of group exhibition at The Banana Factory, Bethlehem, PA
◦ 2012 “Perspectives: The Banana Factory Resident Artist Annual Exhibition” Bethlehem, PA
◦ 2012 “Earth is Overrated” Group exhibition at Allentown Art Works, Allentown, PA
◦ 2012 “First Amendment” Group exhibition Highwire Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
◦ 2012 Elucidator Interview: Taking Root - Growth in the Valley Art Community
◦ 2012 “WE” Group project and exhibition at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA
◦ 2012 March Featured Artist at The Banana Factory, Bethlehem PA
◦ 2012 “The White Show” Group exhibition at The Banana Factory, Bethlehem, PA
◦ 2012 Created the Lehigh Valley Artist Community group on Facebook
◦ 2011 Holiday Gallery and Sale at The Baum School of Art, Allentown, PA
◦ 2011 Invited to become an artist in residence at The Banana Factory, Bethlehem, PA
◦ 2011 Participant: “The Sketchbook Exchange Project” Brooklyn Art Library, Brooklyn NY
◦ 2011 “Spoils of War” group exhibit Connexions Gallery, Easton, PA
◦ 2011 26th Annual Art Auction, The Baum School of Art, Allentown, PA
◦ 2011 Semi-finalist in the Lehigh Valley Art Wars live art competition
◦ 2011 “The Girlie Show” Group exhibition at Suddenly Samantha Salon, Easton, PA
◦ 2011 Art is Fun! Online interview.
◦ 2011 “In Unison” Community Artists of Bethlehem group exhibition at Touchstone Theatre
◦ 2011 Participant: Moleskine Sketchbook Exchange
Contact Stephanie via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 484-893-0336.
Stephanie's Blog: Spiritual Evolution of the Bean
Buy Stephanie's art on Etsy: Fee Bean Art
Stephanie's other blog: Rhodia Drive
On Facebook: Stephanie Smith's Mandala Art
On YouTube: Biffybeans
On Tumblr: Small Bean Bites
On Flickr: Biffybeans Photostream
Follow Stephanie on Twitter: @biffybeans