The symbol of the mandala is synonymous with a highly-dense, plaited circular symbol that carries spiritual and ritualistic significance as a token of Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. Nowadays, the medium is reworked, elevated, and filtered through a contemporary view to create versions inflected with pop-culture collage or representations of microscopic algae.
In a series titled Urban Mandalas, Minneapolis artist Neal Peterson constructs oversized photo pieces that montage together distinct features of a city. On his website, the artist features six mandalas, from New Orleans all the way to Reykjavík. The works highlight the area's most distinctive architectural features, showcasing exterior flourishes, through an endless circular loop. In his depiction of Chicago, for example, his piece zooms in The Loop, the region that categorizes the city's bustling business district. Peterson's works are hyper-miniaturized, and the viewing effect is dizzying with the sheer number of photographic clues contained on a single mass of surface area.
Peterson tells Creators, "When I create an Urban Mandala, I start by walking the streets and shooting photos. I look for patterns or elements that are unique to an area."
"The composition starts on the street," continues Peterson, "whether it's the lighting or the angle of a shot. I look for things that are going to create a sense of dimension or texture. Color and contrast are extremely important."