Some people have talents that simply astound me. I have been amazed more than once by people who excel at their own perfected art forms. My favorites include those who can carve a castle out of a pencil eraser, paint a 3-D mural that makes you dizzy when looking down, and those street artists who shake a rattle can with such precision that the paint bleeds a fantasy space scene onto canvas. These have each awed me more than once while surfing YouTube and visiting street fairs. Now I’m going to add one more head scratching art medium to my list of “How the Hell…?” This is all about those plastic bricks from childhood: Legos.
The Art of the Brick exhibit by artist Nathan Sawaya is being featured at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) now through May 29, 2017. A couple of weeks ago, I took my family and friends to visit the museum and get a chance to see if the Lego creations really stacked up. Everyone in our group, ranging in age from 15-50, found something to make their jaws drop. Nathan Sawaya created such definition and detail from Legos that he was able to recreate famous works of art and historic sculptures that made onlookers forget it all came from plastic and paint.
OMSI did an impressive job creating a showcase venue for Sawaya’s work and created a gallery for visitors to consider each of the pieces both separately and then in themed groups. Some of the favorite re-creations included a display representing the painting American Gothic, the bronze cast Thinker, an impressive Venus De Milo, the Great Sphinx of Giza and the Bust of Nefertiti. The teens in our group enjoyed the massive Tyrannosaurus sculpture and the glowing room of skulls. Additionally, there were pieces of abstract art and thought-provoking depiction of the human form.
I would like to give more description on how the artist achieved these interesting pieces from plastic bricks, but I honestly can’t fathom how it all came together. I have played with Legos and in no way, shape, or form have I ever created anything that looked like anything more than stairs to a dollhouse. So trying to hint at how the artist used shape, color, and sizing to make the forms spring to life, would be kind of a joke coming from my Lego design experience. The best I can do is encourage you to make plans to visit the Art of the Brick exhibit for yourself and see if you feel as inept with childhood toys as I now do. Regardless of your history with Legos, the exhibit is intriguing and very unique.
OMSI is located in Portland, OR near the waterfront at 1945 SE Water Ave. Hours and ticketing information can be found on their visitors page.