Unveiling the Mandalas: Fundraising for the Service-Learning Trip to Cambodia. Come be part of the community!

An important piece of the service-learning trip to Cambodia involves fundraising through the annual Painting Marathon.  This year, the marathon, titled “Canvases for Cambodia”, has three teams including: The Creative Crusaders, The Sunbeams, and The Helping Hands.  Three canvases will be painted over the course of 48 hours to create distinct mandalas.  Sponsors support students by donating to each team as they paint.  This project serves to bring awareness to the service-learning trip, to the reality of sex-trafficking in Cambodia, and to build community support and connection.

canvases for cambodia

The Mandala:

Sanskrit for “sacred circle,” the mandala has represented a mystical symbol of the universe used primarily as a Buddhist or Hindu aid to meditation (Dellios, 2003).  An important part of Cambodian culture, the mandala represents, in this context, the coming together of community.  This is symbolized in the painters coming together to support this project, as well as the larger connection to a global community striving for social justice.  Come join us in connecting to the world through art and community.  Check out this years intentions from each team!  Follow the links to learn more about each team and how to be involved with them.

Introducing the Teams and their Intentions:  

The Creative Crusaders: Resilience, Empowerment, and Possibility

liz mandala

“This open-ended format embraces the whole spectrum of artistic ability, so whether you are a master photorealist, an intuitive abstract colorist, someone who relishes getting lost in intricate patterns, or EVEN if your talent with a paintbrush plateaued in preschool, your contribution has a place in the Mandala. In terms of what we will paint, team Creative Crusaders does not have any specific source images in mind, but we hope to draw upon the following themes for inspiration. A crusader is someone who fights for change in the world, and stands as the source for creating that change. Resilience, empowerment, possibility, justice, truth, courage, passion, and vision are just a few of the qualities we hope to evoke and honor in this Mandala. We encourage each artist to reflect upon your own associations of what it means to be a crusader for social justice. What symbols, colors, patterns, and images come to mind? Have a mandala that inspires you? Post it to our facebook page! We are so excited to create with you!”
The Sunbeams: Reminding us of Natural Cycles and Interconnection
“We create our image/mandala in honor of the Sun, a life-giving Mandala that we witness daily rising in the East and setting in the West.  It is a reminder that we are all united on Earth, as human beings, as nature.  It is a reminder that life is a cycle, always renewing, always rebirthing.  It is a symbol of hope and interconnection; the values we bring with us in our commitment to social justice.”
The Helping Hands: “The whole is greater then the sum of its parts”- Aristotle
“Helping Hands wants to represent each one of our painters over the 48hrs by having them create their own personal, individual mandala.  Each mandala created during your time painting will then create the illusion of a larger mandala.  Each small mandala becomes part of the greater image. Your marks help create the greater whole!”
How this relates to you:
If you live in the area, come paint with us!  No matter where you live, consider donating to support the 2014 team in their commitment to Social Justice, Art Therapy, and Learning.  This is one opportunity to be involve in something larger than ourselves while having fun in the process.  Don’t forget to follow the links to learn more about the teams or donate to them!
The General Donation Fund can also be donated to here.  We thank you for the support!
Dellios, R. (2003). Mandala: from sacred origins to sovereign affairs in traditional Southeast Asia. Center for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies.  Bond University.
Mandala Images Courtesy of:
Via the 2014 Team.
Compiled by Aiya Staller

[MORE PHOTOS!] from the 2nd Annual Matchbox Art Auction Gala

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Photos taken by Monica Kovach…thank you, Monica!

[PHOTOS] from the 2nd Annual Matchbox Art Auction Gala

Please enjoy these photos from the 2013 Small Resources = Big Possibilities Event! We made nearly $8,000 with your support!

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Photos by Jessica Sabo…stay tuned for more!


Student Blog Entry: Raising Funds and Raising Awareness – The Work Before the Work

“Raising Funds and Raising Awareness – The Work Before the Work”

by Emily Wilson

I am so incredibly excited, and perhaps just now realizing, that we are going to Cambodia to learn, to serve, to share our skills, and to build relationship.  That may seem strange, as this blog and project have been going on for over a year, a group of students already went and I had been accepted for this project months ago.  But for me, it is just becoming real.  So much preparation has been going on; learning about Cambodia and Trauma-Informed Art Therapy®, exploring cultural humility, discussing ethics, getting vaccines, figuring out the schedule logistics and NGOs that we will be partnering with, participating in community awareness events, and raising funds.  It is hard to believe that in less than two months, we will be on the plane to Cambodia getting ready to embark on a life changing experience.

So, how do we pay for the plane tickets, the art supplies to bring, the accommodation for students and supervisors while we are there?  The answer – A lot of hard work and all of you!   I began getting involved with NCAS-I at the beginning of 2012.  I helped serve in the role as Project Manger to organize the 2012 Art Auction Gala, then the 2012 Painting Marathon and now this year’s Art Auction Gala.  It took a dedicated and tireless body of student volunteers, community members, and faculty and staff to coordinate, and take responsibility for all of the moving parts to create these successful fundraisers.  Since the start of this project less than two years ago, we have held over 30 formal 2-4 hours meeting and countless one-off meetings, over 500 individually tracked tasks our control log, enough funds raised to ‘pay it forward’ to sponsor the next year’s trip each year, over 300 volunteers, 250 artists donating matchboxes, and numerous in-kind donations including entertainment, food and drink.

So, why do we do this?  Perhaps if each person took the countless hours invested to work a part time job, we could raise the same amount, or even more funds towards the trip. I have three answers for this:  

1. It builds community – This year’s trip will be undertaken by a group of ten students and two supervisors.  Through our time together and especially our time working hard to create these events, we are building cohesiveness in our group.  A sense of community, togetherness, with each member having an active and contributing role helps to describe group cohesiveness (Corey, Corey & Corey, 2010, Yalom & Leszc, 2005).  I am learning through our process of hard work that I can count on each person, I am seeing others’ many strengths, and I feel we are creating a bond that will hopefully serve us well as we embark on this adventure.

2. It brings awareness – These events also bring awareness to the community and create an environment for dialogue; about sex trafficking, about international work and cultural humility, about the ethics involved, about working with fair trade organizations and orphanages, about sending collective prayers and wishes for peace.  And in addition to the fund-raising events, we participate in many other community awareness events, such as the Longmont Street Festival, at which we talked about this project, and created prayer flags as a symbol for hopes and wishes.  NCAS-I members also spoke about their 2012 trip at a community event and spoke at a Naropa Board meeting to bring awareness within the Naropa Community.  We participated in CU’s Eye Contact event, which was specifically geared towards the issues of human trafficking.  We participated in Art Therapy workshops at BMOCA, a sex trafficking symposium with Transitions, spoke on KGNU, had a feature in Naropa Magazine and the Daily Camera, the Boulder Weekly and more!  We are sparking a dialogue and trying to bring a moment for discussion wherever we go.

3. It is FUN! Each event I participated in and even the work up to the event was FUN!  We laugh, we have exciting events, we create together, we eat great food, we express gratitude and it is super fun.  Rather than write anymore, I have included these pictures to express my sentiment.


Corey C., Corey J., & Corey M. (2010). Groups: Process and practice (8th ed.). Brooks/Cole: Belmont, CA.

Yalom, I & Leszcz, M. (2005). The Theory and practice of group psychotherapy. Basic Books: Cambridge, MA.

2012 PAINTING MARATHON: Exciting News on the Way!

We are carefully calculating the donation numbers from the 2012 PAINTING MARATHON to determine the TOP THREE DONORS and the recipients of the FINAL THREE PAINTINGS.  PLEASE STAY TUNED!  We cannot wait to share the exciting news!



With sincere gratitude,

The Naropa Community Art Studio-International (NCAS-I)

The Beauty Found in Trusting the Process

Team Dinosaurus Rex on their process oriented approach to the 48 Hour Painting Marathon:

“For our painting, Team Dinosaurus Rex took a heavily process oriented approach. This focus on process led to a theme emerging and evolving, but staying relatively the same throughout most of the painting marathon.  Some of the first marks included a sketchy image of a dinosaur.  That dinosaur changed and evolved throughout the marathon, but never disappeared.  Within the first six hours a tree emerged.  The tree went through many transformations throughout the 48 hours, finally serving as a space for our team of painters to represent their personal symbols in.  The final product is a collaborative piece that has captured snapshots of all the hands that have lovingly contributed to it.  With little to no direction our community of painters created a beautiful and intriguing image, an image that the viewers can look at for hours finding little secrets hidden within.  Our piece is evidence that beauty can be found in trusting the process.” 

AND…Last week to donate!

We’re approaching the last week of fundraising, so if you would still like to donate to the Painting Marathon and support the mission of the Naropa Community Art Studio-International, follow this link!  An anonymous donor will be matching all donations made through November 25, up to $1,000, so NOW IS THE TIME!

THANK YOU from the NCAS-I!

The Evolution of a Painting: TIME LAPSE and Snapshots from the 48-Hour Marathon!

Check out this cool time lapse video of the evolution of Team Soaring Hearts’ Painting for the 48 Hour Painting Marathon!


The talented Dave Meas generously volunteered his time to take photographs throughout the Painting Marathon.  Check out his photographs on Flickr here!

Team Dinosaurus Rex:  Final Painting

Team Tutulicious Animalz:  Final Painting

Time lapse video courtesy of Erin Shannon…thank you, Erin!  

STAY TUNED for a Recap of the Marathon!

For now, we want you all to know that WE DID IT!  We had an AMAZING show of support leading up to and during the 48 Painting Marathon and have raised over $12,000 AND COUNTING!  The event resulted in three stunning, community created paintings and a studio filled with passion for an incredible mission.  We could not have done it without you…


With love and gratitude,

The Naropa Community Art Studio-International

Beautiful SIGHTS and SOUNDS coming from the Painting Marathon! 9 1/2 hours to go…



The NCAS-I teams and community support here at the Nalanda Art Studio are still going strong on this BEAUTIFUL Sunday morning…

Stay tuned for the Closing Ceremony tonight and the unveiling of the final paintings.  If you’re in the area, please join us from 7-9 p.m. tonight for a fun time and the grand finale!  

As always, THANK YOU for your support!  We’ve raised close to $11,000!  http://www.crowdrise.com/paintingmarathon2012

The 48-Hour Painting Marathon: It’s here! ARE YOU READY?

These little guys are!  They spent the afternoon at Nalanda Studio yesterday getting into the spirit…and YOU SHOULD, TOO!

Come join us tonight for the Opening Ceremony at 9:00 p.m.!  Our AMAZING MC for the opening and closing ceremony, Jenna Noah, will be helping us to get the weekend started.  We’re also looking forward to a fun line-up of entertainment to complement the 48 hours of painting…

Lonnie Lee Comer with Acoustic Bluegrass, The Drumantics with Drumming, Neptune’s Only Daughter with Groove Rock, Maryalma with Singing and Guitar, Sam Rae with Improvisational Cello Looping, Greg Hansen with Drumming, Paul Kimbiris, Ghost Dreams, and a special talk by local artist Sally Eckert

If you can’t make it to the event, please consider showing your support by making a donation.  We’ve raised $10,000 so far and could not have done it without your support:  http://www.crowdrise.com/paintingmarathon2012
THANK YOU from the NCAS-I!