The collaborative practice of Mary and Stephan

Our Practice

The collaborative practice of Stephan Hillerbrand and Mary Magsamen

— Visitor to one of our exhibtions

This is a common reaction when people first see our work. Nothing in our life is left untouched in our art—often quite literally as sofas, bedroom walls, and dinnerware come under physical attack. We are the photographers and the photographed, our home is the canvas, our actions are the content, and our family is the subject. We are interested in how our relationships are constantly changing as we grow older. 

As the collaborative artistic team of Hillerbrand+Magsamen, we draw upon the Fluxus practice of incorporating humor, performance, video and everyday objects in order to have a conversation about family dynamics, suburban life and American consumer excess. By using our home as a stage set and our family as the actors we attempt to fuse familial roles with tropes from Greek legends and Shakespearean dramas. Our work simultaneously “buys in to” and reveals the theatrics and spectacle of the world we live in. In addition to drawing parallels between storytelling and mythology, our work inherently comments on politics and privilege. By deconstructing our iteration of the nuclear family discussions of consumerism and stereotypes lead to larger themes of race, class and gender roles in contemporary American life.  



The artistic team of Hillerbrand+Magsamen is the collaboration of Stephan Hillerbrand and Mary Magsamen. Together they create sculpture, installation, performance, video and photographic works they call “Suburban Fluxus”.  Often including their two children, Madeleine and Emmett in their work, the family critiques and playfully scrutinizes contemporary suburban life.

Hillerbrand+Magsamen have presented their videos in international film and media festivals including Houston Cinema Arts Festival, London SciFi Film Festival, WAND V Stuttgarter Filmwinter, New York Underground Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Boston Underground Film Festival and MonkeyTown. Their cinematic based installations have been exhibited at the Everson Museum (Syracuse, NY), Center for Photography Woodstock (Woodstock, NY), Diffusion Photography Festival (Wales, UK) and Houston Center for Photography (Houston, TX).

They have received grants from Sustainable Arts Foundation, Austin Film Society, Experimental Television Center, Ohio Arts Council, Houston Arts Alliance and Houston Center for Photography. Their project HIGHER GROUND was a commission from the Houston Airport System and received 1st prize from juror Richard Linklater in the CineSpace program at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival.

Hillerbrand+Magsamen have participated in residency programs including: Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (New York, NY), Experimental Television Center (Owego, NY), Elsewhere (Greensboro, NC), Santa Fe Art Institute (Santa Fe, NM). Stephan Hillerbrand is a recipient of two Fulbright Fellowships (Germany) and MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, NH) residency.

Mary and Stephan live and work in Houston with their two children, Madeleine and Emmett.