John A. Hiigli

American artist, inventor and educator

Born: 1943, Union Mills, Indiana (USA)
Died: 2017, New York (USA)


Life and work

On June 1, 1943, John A. Hiigli was born into a small farming community in Union Mills, Indiana, close to nature. He was educated at the University of Indiana, majoring in Comparative Literature in 1964, and the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture for a Drawing Certificate in 1966. He returned to Empire State College for a Bachelor’s degree in Education, alongside Bank Street Graduate School of Education for a Master’s degree, both in 1983.

A determining experience was learning about the theory of cognitive development of Jean Piaget, the Swiss genetic epistemologist. In line with this, Hiigli worked in early childhood education, in 1971 co-founding the French-American preschool Le Jardin A L’Ouest, with his wife: Dominique Bordereaux-Hiigli, and then Jardin Galerie in 2000 on the principle that “Art is an essential component of child development, communication and education.” Four times a year Hiigli holds exhibitions in a virtual gallery and a physical one on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. These shows feature children from local schools and arts organizations with input from children all over the world working on themes such as trees, my family, my country, animals, sealife.

Another defining moment came in Hiigli’s life when he discovered Richard Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome in Wisconsin. He became interested in mathematics and in transformational geometry, and in 1970, came to know Fuller. They formed a master-disciple relationship and stayed in touch until Fuller’s death in 1983. Hiigli’s master’s thesis at Bank Street Graduate School was on “John Dewey, Jean Piaget and Richard Buckminster Fuller”. Then Hiigli set out to organize synergetic geometry into a block system for children. For many years he built block systems and created complex structures, for which he received two United States Patents.

In 2002, the conceptual artist John Sims introduced Hiigli to Gyuri Darvas, the founder of the International Symmetry Festival in Budapest, Hungary and Hiigli traveled there in 2003, 2006, and 2009 as a lecturer and exhibitor.

In 2006 he was invited to exhibit at the SupreMADIsm Art Festival and exhibition series in Moscow organized by the International Mobile MADI Museum, leading to years of collaboration in Hungary with the Hungarian painter János Saxon-Szász and his wife, the curator and writer, Zsusza Dardai.

Individual exhibitions

  • Geometric Transparency Studio Exhibit, NYC – curated by Sharon Goldberg | March 18, 2009
  • The Light of the Heavens Studio Exhibit, NYC – curated by Sharon Goldberg | December 10, 2008
  • Hypercross K.A.S Gallery, Budapest, Hungary – curated by Zsuzsa Dárdai | August 15 – September 15, 2006
  • Transfiguration paintings V.I.A. Art, NYC | April 1996

Group exhibitions

  • Synergetics Collaborative Art Show Opening Waterman Gallery, NYC – Waterman Building at the Rhode Island School of Design | November 2009
  • Circles & Squares with Vandorn Hinnant Bowery Poetry Club, NYC – curated by John Sims | September 11 – October 12, 2009. The first show of the exhibition series titled Rhythm of Structure: Mathematics, Art and Poetic Reflection
  • Lines – The Feeling of One Dimension Gallery B55, Budapest, Hungary – curated by Zsuzsa Dárdai | July 31 – August 5, 2009. International Symmetry Festival “Science in the Arts – Arts in the Sciences” Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Gallery B55 and International Mobil MADI Museum
  • Quest for the Intangible Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, NYC – January 9 – February 3, 2009
  • Drawn From Nature Access Art, NYC – curated by Sharon Goldberg | July 16 – 30, 2008
  • Sales Event: 6 Artists from the New York Studio School Access Art, NYC – curated by Sharon Goldberg | June 24 – 28, 2008
  • Transcendent Counterpoints Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, NYC | January 4 – 29, 2008
  • Symmetry in Art and Science Education Europa Congress Center, Budapest, Hungary – curated by Zsuzsa Dárdai | August 12 – 18, 2006. International Symmetry Festival 2006
  • supreMADIsm – Homage to the masters of Russian Constructivism Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, Russia – curated by Zsuzsa Dárdai | May 10 – June 22. 2006. International art festival and exhibition series at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art
  • Symmetry: The Synthesis of Constancy and Change Budapest, Hungary – curated by Zsuzsa Dárdai | August 2003. International Symmetry Festival 2003
  • Rhythm of Structure: Math Art in Harlem FIRE PATROL N.5 ART Building, NYC – curated by John Sims | January 4, 2003
  • MATH ART/ART MATH Selby Gallery Ringling School of Art And Design Sarasota, Florida | March 2002
  • BLUE 450 Broadway Gallery, NYC | September 1996

(Source: Wikipedia)