Handala, a Mandala of Hands - CODAworx

Handala, a Mandala of Hands

Submitted by Jennifer Espenscheid

Client: Pattee Group / Clarke Square Neighborhood Association

Location: MILWAUKEE, WI, United States

Completion date: 2017

Artwork budget: $16,000

Project Team


Jennifer Espenscheid

The Soma Show


Ian Batista

Clarke Square Neighborhood Association


Ryan Pattee

Pattee Group LLC

Industry Resource

Colleen Lake

Lake Effects Design

Industry Resource

Micheal Johnson

Neanderthal Signs


To create Unity in Clarke Square I created original hand portraits taken from neighborhood residents. These were arranged in a Mandala. An organic Mural was painted behind it, mirror tiles attached to the perimeter and lighting cantilevered over for an amazing meaningful changing addition to the area.


Ryan Pattee approached me about doing a mural on the side of one of his new properties on National Avenue in Clarkes Square Neighborhood in Milwaukee. He was already involved in the Neighborhood Association and there was a competition for the commission. My proposal involved the community be integrated before and at the conclusion of the project. my vision was a Handala, a mandala of hands. Ive seen and been amazed at mandalas in every culture in every age as I’ve traveled… in rose windows, sacred circles, native sheilds, medics circles, Tibetan sand sculptures, Hindu art and on and on…..The other universally recognizable visual is our Hands. We caress our children, build, make art, hold tools, write and create with our hands. My intention was to unite the people of this community in celebration of what we all have in common.


A neighborhood festival was created and we set up space to photograph everyones hands in beautiful positions. I then created originals of oil on wood and in photoshop utilized them in concentric patterns to make a Mandala. This piece was installed and I painted an organic uplifting mural behind it and an official Welcome to Clarke Square! At the grand opening there was party inviting the Neighborhood with food, reception, art projects for kids and we added pieces of mirror i had cut to the perimeter of the Handala. These Mirror Seeds were symbols of what we all put out there as emotion, inspiration, language, love, and intention. Lighting was cantilevered over the building side and as the lights change the different aspects of the mural come to life and the mirrors twinkle. Later that month the Mayor and other city officials spoke at the unifying qualities and lasting effects of the project…. a true transformation of an empty old building canvas to a meaningful vibrant declaration of vitality.

Additional Information

Testimonial from the Client- 'Jennifer worked with us on a large mural project. She head up the entire project, including community outreach, planning, prepping, and installation. The entire process was seamless, fun, and most importantly brought the community together. Her execution of our project was literally EXACTLY what we envisioned. We look forward to working with her again in the future.' Ryan Pattee - President