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With Soil From Everywhere, Mandala Shows that We're All Connected
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Artist Neil Tetkowski with his Mandala
The 189 members of the United Nations sent more than just representatives to the PrepCom for the World Summit on Sustainable Development that opened today—they also sent a little part of themselves, in the form of clay and soil.

Melded together, the earth from all the countries of the world has become part of the World Mandala Project, the brainchild of New York artist Neil Tetkowski. It will be on view to the public at the Main Lobby of the United Nations from 28 January to 11 March.

The idea of the giant eight-foot-high mandala, which looks like a 10-slice adobe-colored pizza with a spiral design, is to symbolize the oneness of all humanity. "It is about the relationship of people to the greater good," Tetkowski said. "It is a portrait of humanity."

Johannesburg Summit Secretary-General Nitin Desai said, "This extraordinary work of art illustrates the spiritual and genetic thread that connects all people, tying us together with hope and inspiration."

At the unveiling of the monument, Tetkowski said that the project has involved scores of people from all walks of life who helped provide the clay and soil. "There were barefoot children in Rwanda and Burundi. There were United Nations ambassadors who wanted to be involved in a hands-on way."

Lowell Flanders, of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the Mandala illustrates the idea that existence is rooted in soil, as well as the idea, which goes way back in time, that all people are merely clay in the hands of God. It's an idea, he said, "that we lose sight of in this technological age."

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24 August 2006