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Picturing the Universe Through Colorful Mandalas Made From Toys

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With Mandala, photography team Hillerbrand+Magsamen reinterpret the Hindu symbol of the mandala, placing it unexpectedly within the context of the suburban home and the American family. The husband and wife duo, Stephan Hillerbrand and Mary Magsamen, meticulously arrange household items— children’s toys, books, shoes—into the circular form of the mandala, which symbolizes the entirety of the universe, a cosmic and a metaphysical infinity.

Hillerbrand+Magsamen’s unique installations are equal parts humorous and touching, recontextualizing the chaotic and peripheral objects of everyday life to signify some ineffable and eternal familial bond. These small plastic toys and dolls, when arranged by color and shape, cease to be consumerist products; instead, the disparate items meld together, speaking to a unity, a touching balance of the self in relation to the household. Barbies and dinosaur figurines, children’s shoes and adult dress shoes, coexist in an endless cycle of memory, growth, and wholeness.

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