Farewell to John Hiigli, our mentor and friend

John A. Hiigli (right) and Dominique Bordereaux-Hiigli (left) at Bridges Waterloo 2017.

John Arden Hiigli (1943-2017), our friend, colleague and mentor died 18 October 2017 in New York.

John was a painter, teacher, and humanist. As an artist and thinker, he was largely inspired by the oeuvre of Richard Buckminster Fuller, whom he first met in 1970. John’s artworks have contributed to Fuller’s explorations of the geometry of space on a unique way and brought synergetics in art onto a new level.

John Hiigli with one of his last works, “Chrome 209” at Bridges Waterloo 2017 Art Exhibit.

John has also worked in early childhood education. Over the years, he set out to organize Fuller’s synergetic geometry into a block system for children. In 1971 John was co-founding the French-American preschool Le Jardin A L’Ouest, with his wife: Dominique Bordereaux-Hiigli, and then Jardin Galerie in 2000. Jardin Galerie was worldwide renowned among educators by their global and all-time growing collection of children art.

John Hiigli’s Synergetics Block system workshop at Bridges Baltimore 2015.

John Hiigli’s Synergetics Block system workshop at Bridges Baltimore 2015.

John was an active member, art curator, expert on children art and synergetics, and a main mentor of Experience Workshop from the beginning. He has donated many of his artworks to our international collection of mathematical art. Tirelessly organized virtual and physical exhibitions of children art and influenced our work with his love, knowledge and understanding of children.

Together with Experience Workshop’s CEO, Kristóf Fenyvesi, John has curated Bridges Organization’s Children Art Exhibits, which have been organized in Bridges Conferences’ Family Days between 2012-2017. The Jardin Galerie-Experience Workshop Children Art Exhibits have travelled to the USA (twice), the Netherlands, Korea, Finland and Canada.

We would like to continue this tradition! Therefore, from 2018 we will organize our children art exhibits for Bridges Organization under the new name of “Hiigli Children Art Exhibit”!

In January 2016, John Hiigli has summarized his views on Experience Workshop. We share his thoughts below. 

Farewell dear John, we follow in your footsteps!


The Experience Workshop is a logical extension of the International Symmetry Festivals, the Bridges Mathematics and Art Conferences and the MADI Movement. These developments did not occur in an artistic vacuum but rather are themselves an outgrowth of the natural interaction between art, mathematics and science practiced by modern artists of the constructivist movement, the Bauhaus and more recently the MADI Movement, particularly in Eastern Europe.

The Experience Workshop seeks to interact with the “classroom” in a creative and constructive way in order to introduce new teaching materials and methods and re-energize traditional ones through the insertion of “lessons” into the regular curriculum. These lessons are based on a cross-disciplinary approach to learning science and mathematics through art, through learning “games” and activities carried out in the spirit of collaboration, through the process of experimentation and play. We note that play, fun, pleasure is also a characteristic of the MADI Movement and is an outgrowth of an emphasis on play established in the progressive educational environment post-Piaget (learning through doing – action learning).

The Experience Workshop seeks to open the gates of universities, schools, museums, educational centers and libraries to children, their families and teachers, and those curious visitors who see beyond the strict science in mathematics and geometry, but are open to the common experiences, discoveries and tools of joyful creation, the same tools which the MADI painters and sculptors have utilized in their attempt to express the joy of creation.

The Experience Workshop introduces to our schools and our communities artists influenced by mathematics, science and symmetry studies, artists who work in the interdisciplinary spirit of “the loving improvement of learning.”

The Experience Workshop then demonstrates and puts into educational practice the new “dynamic progressive” approach to curriculum that we believe will pioneer the new schools for our children going forward: schools that are centers for collaboration between children, parents, artists, scientists, mathematicians; schools that are bridges that connect art and science, creativity and innovation; schools that foster immediate dialogue between the education community, academicians, and prominent representatives of artistic societies in the field of creativity and innovation; schools that nurture a natural desire to learn, in community, in a playful but constructive way, in collaboration with the larger professional community with which they are one.

John A. Hiigli’s last own exhibit is open until December 2017 at Saxon Art Gallery, Budapest, Hungary

The International Symmetry Association (ISA) has a remembrance of John
at http://symmetry.hu/john-arden-hiigli/

The Synergetics Collaborative and Victor Acevedo produced a video about the Vector Equilibrium and Isotropic Vector Matrix including John’s presentation and some of his work at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3c0wP2AXpo

A memorial service is being planned for November 11, 2017. Watch John’s Facebook
page for details https://www.facebook.com/john.hiigli44

You can learn more about John’s work by visiting his web site at

A characteristic gesture, the last encounter: John A. Hiigli is holding his umbrella over Kristóf Fenyvesi in Niagara Falls, Ontario, 2017.

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