For most of us, the clutter from our household items is hellish. But for one couple, it’s sacred. Husband-wife artist duo Stephan Hillerbrand and Mary Magsamen make order out of the chaos – by rearranging their stuff into eye-catching reinterpretations of the mandala, the Hindu-Buddhist symbol for the universe.
Metro chats with the artist duo to learn more about their creations.
What got you around to crafting your mandalas?
For the past few years, we’ve been making art about being a typical American family of four entrenched in an excess of consumerism. We both came up with a funny idea of creating a large sculptural piece in a gallery using our kids’ old toys – it was like a crop circle. Afterwards we started to think about transforming neglected objects into something new. The concept of the mandala seemed perfect – it’s a means of healing and creating order out of chaos.
What connects the mandala and consumerism?
Consumerism has become a strange spiritual center in many people’s lives. Like so many faiths, it starts off slow and then grows and grows until you have a drawer full of power adapters, crates of kids’ toys, while you have to keep updating, upgrading and downloading. Making the mandalas was our way of slowing down that process.
It’s ironic that these sacred symbols are made up of household objects, no?
Indeed. In today’s consumer-driven economy, these kinds of items have become our universe. But I think most people will recognize this irony. We’re attracted to the beauty of these mandalas, the nostalgia and memories of objects, but we also perceive the waste caused by consumerist culture.
What overall message do you want to express?
We want these works to have a meditative purpose. In Hinduism and Buddhism, mandalas are spiritual teaching tools, devices for meditation and trance induction. This is our effort to bring peace back into the home. So we hope people will rethink their relationship towards stuff, consumerism and spirituality.