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Art students paint Mandalas with New York City artist

PHS art student Hannah Brenk displays her Mandala, alongside New York Mills visiting artist Junichiro Ishida.1 / 2
Students in Laura Moe's art class at Perham High School work together to paint their Mandalas. Pictured, left to right, are Brianna Bennett, Brooke Koljonen, and Tiffany Washek.2 / 2

Artist Junichiro Ishida, from New York City, spent the last three weeks working with students in Perham and New York Mills art classes.

Ishida is the current visiting artist with the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center. While in Perham, Ishida spent time with teacher Laura Moe's high school art class, teaching drawing games first, then Mandala painting workshops after that.

The Mandalas, which are circular in nature with sections detailing different scenes, are supposed to represent the students' lives and interests.

"The idea behind it is to show what makes them individuals," explained Ishida. "I asked them to use things that represent them."

Depicted in some of the Perham students' artwork were objects such as basketballs, footballs, swords, dogs, and crosses. In addition to his time in Perham, Ishida spent several days in New York Mills working with Tammy Olsen's high school exploring art class.

For more information about Ishida, including examples of his work, visit his website at

Ishida's artist statement

I envision my art as promoting the positive essence of the human experience. I want my paintings to wake up an audience from idling in the impermanence of the floating world and advance them to a level of consciousness embodied in the following declarations: Live the life. Now is the time. Focus and concentrate.

I want to celebrate being alive in an interconnected realm. Absolute beauty resides in tranquility. I challenge the notion of self-serving, self-important, self-expressional art. Also, I contest the idea of art as protesting, criticizing, or merely reflecting our society.

I would rather dedicate my work to preserving the good side of human nature rather than reducing it to a mere complaint. In working toward this mission, I distill and decant ingredients from my surroundings and strive to radiate them with pure energy.

To invest in the positive side of the human experience, I am committed to aesthetics. I have four guiding principles for art making: unexpected composition, skillfully and cleverly crafted forms, richness in color, and unique layering effects. According to these principals, manipulate dimension, form, and color. These ideas come from studying eastern traditional art, particularly Japanese art from the feudal era.

I use elements such as stylized natural forms, Buddhist iconography, haiku poems, Chinese Buddhist mantras, Tibetan secret symbols, as well as composition and techniques from Asian art. By using East Asian traditions, I introduce the viewer to the Asian art tradition, a legacy as rich as Western art, yet often neglected.

Besides being a messenger of what we identify as goodness, I would also like to redefine and revive the elegance of Asian art in post-modern times.

I paint what I know, and, in doing so, strive to be true to my inner thoughts and maintain a clear mind in making an honest work. When the radiance from a painting is conveyed to an audience - and when they feel that positive energy - I consider my work a success.