Steamboat library announces a call for sand painting designs

Audrey Dwyer

In 2010, Steamboat Springs was introduced to the Drepung Loseling monks after their residency at the Bud Werner Memorial Library to construct a sand mandala.

As part of a cultural program at the library, the Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in India bring this art form designed to heal an environment and the people in it. They will again take up residency at the library from July 29 until Aug. 2 to construct a sand mandala of their own in Library Hall.

In addition to the monks’ incredible, intricately detailed sand mandala, was the community sand painting that allowed people of all ages to have a hands-on experience with a separate sand painting.

This year, the library will again create a community sand painting. But first, a design is needed. The library is now holding a design contest for the community sand painting that is open to all ages.

Jennie Lay, adult programs coordinator for the library, said this is not an attempt to replicate the monks’ sacred art — the images in the community sand painting should reflect strongly the local essence of the Steamboat community and landscape.

Designers must consider the medium when coming up with their submissions — this particular design will be recreated in sand with bright colors. Well-defined lines and borders between colors are encouraged.

Designs must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. June 1.

As the monks spend countless hours each day working on their sand mandala, the community will have an opportunity to use the same tools and techniques the monks employ.

“The idea is to have a sand painting that reflects our community both in its content and with everyone who helps create it,” Lay said. “I have confidence we will have another great design because this collaborative project was so near and dear to everyone’s hearts last time. I’m sure there are artists out there who already have ideas brewing.”

Last year, the quote on the community design read, “May our valley, our community and our spirit thrive in harmony here.” It also included designs of elk antlers, a columbine flower, snowflakes and recognizable trees found in the valley.

Designs can be delivered in person to the library front desk or via mail to 1289 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs, CO 80487. Lay asks that all submissions be clearly marked with a name, a phone number and an email address. The winning design will be revealed before the monks arrive in mid-July. Email Lay with any questions at

Submission guidelines

  1. The community sand painting will be constructed on a square platform similar to the one the monks will use. The final design will be approximately 4 by 4 feet, but design entries should be on a smaller scale (12 by 12 inches is the recommended size). Bud Werner Memorial Library will supply all the colored sand and trained docents to assist with the process. A color picture of the design will be displayed nearby so people will be reminded where to place suggested colors.
  2. The design should be simple, meaningful and easily recognized by the local community. The design can be a combination of shapes, images and words but should not be overburdened by intricate details.
  3. The design should be able to be viewed from all angles, without a defined top and bottom so everyone who works on it or views it at any angle will still have a good vantage point.
  4. Many people will work to bring the design to fruition — young and old, artists with and without experience.
  5. Remember the medium. This is a painting in sand. Shapes and edges need to be well defined.
  6. All design proposals must be submitted in color. Color pencil is preferred, or a medium that does not allow for shading of colors, as this is not possible with the sand. Computer graphic design is acceptable as well.
  7. By submitting the design for the community sand painting, you agree to release all rights to use this image to Bud Werner Memorial Library solely for the purpose of the community sand painting. Your design may be used in part or in its entirety, in the spirit of collaborative community design.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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