At a glance the room is as it seems, but upon closer examination each work of art is a painstaking replica made of an unusual medium you would have to see to believe. The Buffalo Science Museum, just a quick hour and twenty minutes down the 90, is currently home to the Art of the Brick, a travelling exhibit of incredible sculptures made entirely of LEGOS! Yep, you read that right, LEGOS: the colorful plastic blocks we remember from childhood. I personally have memories of working hard at the LEGO table in my kindergarten classroom making what I thought were perfect creations, but the artist behind the Art of the Brick, Nathan Sawaya, truly went above and beyond with this creative endeavor.
The first thing you see when you enter the exhibit is a room full of recreations of a variety of well known paintings and sculptures. The meaning behind this is simple– in Sawaya’s own words: “I first learned adjectives through School House Rock. I learned how to count to ten through Sesame Street. I learned about gravity through my Slinky. Imagine if a child learns about art history through LEGO!” Truly an original idea, and a well executed one at that. Inside, children are fascinated by the recreations, recognizing the familiar toy, but also gaining exposure to classic works of art including “Mona Lisa”, “The Big Wave off Kanagawa”, Michelangelo’s “David” statue, and many more.
Past this first section, Sawaya displays his original creations, mainly sculptures depicting the human form and the human condition, one of his major creative inspirations, but he also includes a self-portrait. My personal favorite section of the exhibit is the final stretch, a multi-media collaboration entitled “In Pieces”. The project consists of a variety of photographs by photographer Dean West which appear normal, most of them modeled off the quintessential American postcard, but on further inspection you’ll notice one aspect of each photograph is a LEGO sculpture created by Sawaya which has been incorporated into the scene. The exhibit displays both the final photographs as well as the physical sculptures depicted in them while a video playing alongside gives the artists a chance to explain their vision as the viewer gets a glimpse of their process. Informational plaques next to each piece in the gallery provide a detailed description of the piece itself, as well as a specific count of just how many LEGO bricks were used to create it.
Finally, before you leave, there is an area with containers of LEGOS so you have a chance to unlock your inner artist and try this experience out for yourself while the inspiration is still fresh in your mind. If you’re interested in attending this unique exhibit and seeing these creations for yourself, the installment will be housed in Buffalo until May 5 — and yes, there is a student discount for tickets, although I’d recommend buying them online in advance to make sure they’re not sold out for this incredible, popular experience!