Megan Sauder & Mandy Hinkle: Cultivating Connective Spaces

 In Gallery Shows, Interviews, Uncategorized, Writings

For the 2019 year, Mandy Hinkle and Megan Sauder were an Artist in Residence duo at Saddleback Visual Arts. Together as a team, they committed to working out their craft in the midst of our community and we in turn were able to learn from their life and artistic practice. You may read more about and apply to be the next artist in residence here.


Mandy Hinkle is a cultivator of beautiful spaces for the purpose of enriching conversation, reflection, and connection. Over the years, Mandy has expressed and expanded her art as a chef, facilitator, hand lettering designer, and soon to be Nutritional Therapy Practitioner.  Her current focus is combining these passions to host inspiring and intentional gatherings over healthy and delicious meals. Mandy’s passion is to create space for people to enjoy being together, as they share stories and get the opportunity to know others and be known. Mandy desires to continue fostering community and connection using her art, and also invites viewers to recognize their own desires and creative opportunities to host gatherings unique to them and their guests.


Megan Sauder is a floral and tablescape designer who focuses on creating space for people to engage with their own emotional and spiritual landscapes finding freedom to express these areas in artistic ways. She is a certified Art & Creativity for Healing facilitator and has been featured at Anthropologie Newport Beach and Farmhouse Magazine. Throughout the year, they saw an opportunity to collaborate, with a shared desire to create uniquely beautiful and inviting spaces where people could gather and leave rejuvenated in community. 


For the Art of Gathering dinner experience in their home, they served their guests a simple seasonal meal prepared with health in mind.  Each guest came prepared to share a story that relates to their experience of “gathering.” Each individual would also propose a toast to something they learned from their experience.  What emerged was a beautiful exchange of encouragement, laughter, tears, and grateful reflection around the table. 

Interview with Mandy Hinkle


What is in your Heart to express?

MH: I want to create spaces for people to know they belong. I like to recreate the type of connecting experiences that the Lord used to draw me close to him years ago.


How does your Personality contribute to your creative expression?

MH: I am an introverted extrovert. I love having small intimate gatherings that don’t usually include lots of people. I care deeply about my guests feeling heard and enjoying themselves at a soul level. When I plan my experiences, I am thoughtful about who will attend, what they can connect on, and how they might leave filled up.


What have been your Experiences in education, work, spiritual journey, ministry or challenges you’ve overcome or want to overcome?

MH: I had a difficult time making friends growing up. When I graduated high school, I moved to a multicultural missional community. I fostered deep relationships over simple daily meals and being face to face with people who grew up differently than me. As I grew up in every way, the Lord showed me a glimpse of his Kingdom culture of honor, love, forgiveness, and joy. 


Why did you come to Saddleback Visual Arts?

MH: It really did change my life, like I came from not having any friends and moving into a new town to finding my people. And finding that I am not actually weird. I am an artist and I have my creativity… (Creativity) is a good thing. something that I, you know, growing up saw as a burden. And I wasn’t smart enough. I wasn’t like everyone else in school but that God made me this way and it’s a gift. And he wants to celebrate that in me.

See Mandy share in a recent video interview (final interviewee)

Interview with Megan Sauder

What is in your heart to express?

MS: One of my deepest desires is to create experiences and work that draw people into hope, healing, and freedom.  Being human is a challenging journey where we encounter things like shame, regret, insecurity, fear, anger, and disappointment.  But what if there was hope to be found in the midst of those things? What if, instead of isolating ourselves from others and God, we engaged with our community (and our Creator) even in the messiness of life?  I think the way we live life would radically change if we knew that authentic love and acceptance is possible even when we struggle or fail. In a world that constantly asks us to live up to impossibly beautiful Instagram posts or perfectly curated lifestyles, I can’t help but feel the desire to create spaces and experiences that allow real people to do real life with one another.  That’s why I love bringing people together. Whether it’s therapeutic art workshops, a floral design class, or gathering people around the table for a meal… I believe there is so much good to be found in the sharing and understanding of our deeply personal and uniquely individual human experiences. 

Why do you create?

MS: Being a creative is something I’ve pursued because, well, it’s woven into who I am!  Like most artists’ stories, it was years and years of creative exploration and growth before I dared call myself an artist.  Despite growing up in the church and practically memorizing the Genesis story, it wasn’t until my 20’s that I fully realized that God being Creator meant that He is a CREATIVE!  That simple revelation gave me permission to confidently step into my artistry as a God-given gifting and calling. 

What are you passionate about in your creative life?

MS: I feel incredibly inspired when I get to experiment and try something new.  This can include testing out new methods, mediums, or ideas. I also come alive when the work I do allows a real, tangible connection to happen.  This could be any connection that happens between the artist, viewers/attendees, God, or the art piece itself. Even if the piece I’ve created is purely for my own intimate connection with the Holy Spirit, that is work I believe is worthy of my time and energy. 

Megan on Instagram:

Mandy on Instagram:

Photography by Michelle Thune @michellebriannephoto

See Mandy and Megan’s Work in The Saddleback Art Gallery, up from Nov 21, 2019. Work is up through January 21, 2019

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