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North Hills Monthly

Inspiration for All Ages: The Art of the Brick at the Carnegie Science Center

Aug 03, 2018 09:59AM ● By Vanessa Orr

Nathan Sawaya received his first LEGO set at the age of 5, and while he might not have been obsessed with the toy, it was obviously still top-of-mind when he left his job as a corporate lawyer to become an artist, and later the creator of The Art of the Brick—the world’s largest display of LEGO art.

“It was fun, and something that no one had ever done before,” he explained of his art style in a video at the beginning of the show, which is on display at the Carnegie Science Center through Jan. 7, 2019. “It’s like the whole world is snapping into place.”

The exhibit is absolutely mind-blowing, with more than 100 pieces of art on display, featuring more than 1 million bricks. It took Sawaya 8,965 hours to create his fantastic sculptures, which range from imitations of famous art works, including Edvard Munch’s The Scream, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and Grant Wood’s American Gothic, to historical recreations of the sculptures of Venus de Milo, Augustus of Prima Porta and Michelangelo’s David. The exhibit also includes more avant-garde work, alongside meaningful messages about the human condition. A sculpture of a man climbing up from behind a wall, for example, talks about how no such boundary can contain the human spirit.

More than just a collection of LEGO art, the exhibit showcases Sawaya’s views on life and finds a way through ‘play’ to delve more deeply into the issues that concern us all. And while adults may ponder the more subtle messages, the fact that the sculptures are also just extremely cool will delight children of all ages. A definite favorite was the 20-foot-long T-Rex dinosaur skeleton, a very big example of the artist’s craftsmanship that elicited oohs and ahhs from the under-20 crowd.

Children can also channel their inner Sawaya in The Science of the Brick, a hands-on builder activity area that was put together by the Carnegie Science Center staff in conjunction with local teachers. The area promotes a number of learning opportunities, focusing on STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math), building, creating/learning through playing, engineering concepts and more. The display features 17 tables with eight different brick-building challenges.

“It’s a great fit for us, and plays to our mission,” explained Carnegie Science Center Manager of Marketing, Public Relations and Social Media Nicole Chynoweth, about the Sawaya exhibit, adding that the Carnegie’s interactive addition will now travel with the show to other museums.  

CNN called this a “Top 10 Global Must See Exhibition,” and they were absolutely right. By using a simple toy to create art, Sawaya transcends the medium to deliver a much larger message.

For more information and ticket prices, visit www.carnegiesciencecenter.org.