Growing up on a family farm was the spark that led to Meredith Brower becoming a photographer.

TIVERTON — Growing up on a family farm was the spark that led to Meredith Brower becoming a photographer.

And now, she’s sharing her love of nature and her photography skills in a workshop creating and photographing mandalas made from foraged items. “Forage – Focus – Photograph,” an adult eco-art mandala-making class, will be held at the Four Corners Arts Center on Sunday, Jan. 27.

Though not nearly as intricate as the sand mandalas created by Tibetan monks, the mandalas created in Brower’s workshops share the same quality of impermanence. Once the workshop participants have completed their mandalas and photographed them, the foraged materials are given back to nature.

Dried leaves, tangled vines, berries, seed pods, shells, rocks and sea glass are just some of the items that have found their way into Brower’s mandalas. When she has a composition she’s happy with, Brower photographs the mandala and she turns the images into prints, cards, tiles, scarves and other objects that she sells on her Firefly Mandala Etsy shop and locally at the Aquidneck Growers Winter Market in Newport and the Hotpoint Emporium Artist Co-op in Bristol.

Based in Tiverton, Brower takes photos as a freelancer for The Newport Daily News; she worked as a graphic designer for the newspaper and its related publications including Mercury and Newport Life for several years until she left the job in June 2017.

She started making the mandalas about three years ago and began offering the workshops about a year ago at her studio, a barn attached to her family homestead overlooking Nonquit Pond.

“I had no intention or understanding of what this was. It’s been a really great experience and a way to connect to people and the community and your internal soul ... Where that sense of peace comes from,” she said.

At the start of the mandala workshops, Brower gives everyone a basket and a pair of scissors and they go out into the woods to forage for items. “I try to open their eyes and change their perspective in terms of seeing beauty in the nature. You see this beautiful red leaf, but if you flip it over you see the veins and all of the structure — so to look at things not just because they’re pretty. Look at the flower, look at the underbelly,” she said.

The benefits of the workshops go far beyond the creative aspects, giving people a communal environment to get away from their day-to-day lives, Brower said.

“Most people who come to the class say they’re not creative at all, but most are surprised by the results, which ends up giving them a couple hours out of their day to calm their minds and quell their mind from judging their hearts,” she said.

In 2016, Brower launched the Firefly Festival, a day of yoga, meditation, music and food held in Portsmouth. Since then, it’s morphed into a wellness festival that last year included a meditation walk, a mindful photography class, a mental-health writing class and a Thai massage/partner yoga class.

She also specializes in dog portraits, which she shoots in her studio. “All these dogs have different personalities,” she said, describing a shoot with a greyhound who turned “GQ model” when she put a bow tie on him.

The house where her studio is located was built in 1820. Her parents, high school sweethearts who lived in Cranston, bought the 36-acre produce farm and farmhouse in 1962. “My mother used to spend summers in Little Compton and she literally rode by this in a horse-drawn carriage,” said Brower, who now lives there with her mother, Ruth.

“I grew up thinking everybody grew up on a farm. I didn’t realize how lucky I was,” she added.

Standing in the backyard of the house overlooking the pond, Brower recalled how the beautiful natural setting and seeing hot air balloon rising over the horizon was what really started her interest in becoming a photographer.

She went to the Rochester Institute of Technology originally with the intention of studying printing and going into her family’s printing business. But taking a photography class that led to a bachelor’s degree in photo illustration changed the course of her life.

For more information, contact Brower at FireflyMandalas@gmail.com.