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United Nations

Common Ground World Project


At the heart of Neil Tetkowski’s multi-faceted artistic undertaking is a singularly fascinating concept: collect clay and sand samples from all United Nations Member States, formulate them into a single “world clay”, and create a landmark sculpture celebrating the interconnection of all human beings.  This is an artwork with a remarkable story of collaboration.



The Common Ground World Mandala was created on location at the United Nations. It is the only work ever made with the participation of people from every nation of the world. Created with a portion of earth from all Member States, the sculpture measures nine feet tall by seven feet wide (2.75 x 2.25 meters).


Officially endorsed at the United Nations, former Under-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.” Tetkowski’s Common Ground World Project was a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts. The project was made possible with contributions form many supportive individuals and a grant from the Ford Foundation.



“People from every nation participated equally in this project, and it is the first time earth from every country of the world has been blended together to symbolically dissolve national borders and boundaries. This process of collaboration with individuals in every nation of the world speaks to our collective need to recognize our connection to each other and to our environment.”

— Neil Tetkowski

Neil Tetkowski is the founder and Director of the Common Ground World Project, an international non-governmental organization that uses the arts and education to focus attention on global environmental concerns. In 1997, Tetkowski presented this concept to several offices at the United Nations. Within a few months, the Common Ground World Project was officially endorsed by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Tetkowski led the collaborative effort to recruit, inspire and coordinate people around the world, to extract earth from their country and send it to New York City. During the spring of 2000 Tetkowski built a sculpture on location at the United Nations using these unique earth materials and physically involved people from every country of the world. The Common Ground World Project was endorsed by the New York Foundation for the Arts and completed with a grant from the Ford Foundation. In 2002 the World Mandala Monument was exhibited at the United Nations visitor’s lobby in New York.

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