A few months ago, we had the opportunity to see Nathan Sawaya’s “Art of the Brick” exhibition when it was at our local science museum. Like most young boys – my little man LOVES Legos so this exhibit was fascinating to him. My daughter loved it too!
Nathan Sawaya is a New York-based artist who creates awe-inspiring works of art out of some of the most unlikely things. His recent global museum exhibitions feature large-scale sculptures using only toy building blocks. Born in Colville, Washington and raised in Veneta, Oregon (My home state, yay!) Sawaya’s childhood dreams were always about fun. He work connects with us because he uses items we are all familiar with … his Lego sculptures captivate our imagination and everyone thinks to themselves, “I could do that!”
What I love about his work is that while his sculptures appear to simply be snapped together from LEGO bricks, there is a little more to the process. Like many sculptors, Sawaya makes preliminary sketches of his pieces. He also uses graph paper to translate these sketches into LEGO reality.
As a train enthusiast with an impressive collection of HO trains for his years, Buddy’s favorite piece (shown above) revealed a remote train depot, part of Sawaya’s ‘In Pieces’ series. The ‘In Pieces’ series features isolated individuals standing in recognizable but chillingly empty minimalist scenes with geometrical design, derived from common features of the American landscape. Incorporated into the piece, the figures have elongated limbs, referencing society’s idealized bodies. Juxtaposed against a desolate, American realist environment, the images are both appealing and ambiguous.
There were several other pieces in this series on display and we enjoyed each one. Using the style and content of the American Postcard as a reference, the photographic elements have been color graded with pastels. As the viewer begins to examine the piece closely, the series reveals its brick-by-brick fabricated construction. This process also represents the direct processes involved with digital photography today. Clear references to pixelation and technology are apparent through the stylized manipulation and digital enhancements.
If you are interested in seeing this exhibit yourself, check out Sawaya’s website, The Art of the Brick for more information.