I had the privilege of conducting a virtual interview with Nathan Sawaya, the mastermind and soul behind the one-of-a-kind exhibit The Art of the Brick now taking place in Taipei. You can get a glimpse of the singular exhibition by clicking on Nathan Sawaya: Recreator of LEGO.
Nathan Sawaya is officially recognized by The LEGO Group as a LEGO Certified Professional. Unlike many other artists that use metal, clay, wood or wire and all to create works of art, Nathan discerningly chooses the proverbial LEGO bricks as an art medium.
This online interview offers a rare opportunity of acquainting yourself with this great LEGO-brick sculptor, including his initial pull to the LEGO bricks, his perspective as an artist, and his source of inspirations and drive. You’d appreciate his art creations more as well as in a new light once you hear what he has to say here. Make sure you browse through it before you set foot on the exhibition site.
About Nathan Sawaya:
● Born July 10, 1973 in Colville, Washington and raised in Veneta, Oregon.
● Graduated from New York University with law degrees and practiced law at the firm Winston & Strawn.
● First came to national attention in 2004, when he won a nationwide search for a professional LEGO Master Model Builder.
● Officially recognized in 2005 by The LEGO Group as a LEGO Certified Professional.
● Had his first solo art exhibit in the 2007 at the Lancaster Museum of Art. The Art of the Brick is the first major museum exhibition to focus exclusively on the use of LEGO building blocks as an art medium.
Q: Many have played with LEGO, but few have ever thought of using the LEGO bricks to construct exhibit-worthy art pieces. What was it that made you think LEGO bricks could be a good and viable medium for expressions of art?
Nathan Sawaya: I had sculpted out of many more traditional media such as clay and wire. I had even done a series of sculptures out of candy. But it was about ten years ago that I thought about this toy from my childhood and challenged myself to do a large scale sculpture of myself using LEGO bricks.
As an artist, I wanted to elevate this simple childhood toy to a place it has never been before: into the fine art galleries and museums. I appreciate the cleanliness of the LEGO brick. The right angles. The distinct lines. As so often in life, it is a matter of perspective. Up close, the shape of the brick is distinctive. But from a distance, those right angles and distinct lines change to curves. That is what drew me to the brick.
I like using the bricks as a medium because I enjoy seeing people’s reactions to artwork created from something with which they are familiar. Everyone can relate to it since it is a toy that many children have at home.
Q: How do you generate new ideas for your next sculptures?
Nathan Sawaya: Ideas come from everywhere. I always carry a small notebook with me so I can sketch out ideas when I get them. With art exhibitions around the world, I am often traveling and meeting new people. The new people and places are a great source for new ideas.
Q: What kind of impact or inspirations do you wish to bring to your global audience through your LEGO creations?
Nathan Sawaya: Many of my works center on the phenomena of how everyday life, people and raw emotion are intertwined. Often my art is a reenactment of my personal feelings. I am inspired by my own experiences, emotions and the journeys I am taking. I also try and express my emotions through my art. I want my art to captivate people for as long as it can keep their attention.
I also want to remind people that anything can be art. Even a child’s toy can be art. Art is so important to our daily lives. We need it to enlighten and we need it every day. I hope my art inspires others to go out and create for themselves.
Q: What expectations do you have of your exhibition in Taipei? And Asian tour?
Nathan Sawaya: I am hopeful that the people of Taipei enjoy my artwork. It has been an honor to launch my Asian tour in Taipei, and I am excited to see people’s reactions to the art. So far the reactions have been amazing and I hope everyone gets to visit this exhibition.
A final word from Nathan:
“One of the most popular of my sculptures that is on display in Taipei is my sculpture “Yellow” which depicts a human figure tearing his chest open while thousands of yellow LEGO bricks spill out around him. I am happy to say that we are trying to get this sculpture produced as an official LEGO set, so that you could build your very own “Yellow” at home. To get LEGO to make this an official kit, we need people to support this project. Please tell your readers to go to the link below, and press “SUPPORT” to help support this fantastic project. They will need to register for free on the site, and then SUPPORT the “Small Yellow” project.”
Alternatively, if you have a Facebook account, you can simply register there. A few clicks will land you on the page of “Yellow” at the LEGO store in no time.
Let’s all give the “Yellow” drive a big boost as described above.
◎ Where to buy Nathan Sawaya art pieces in print?
Visit the official store at http://nathansawaya.shop.musictoday.com/
◎ Sooper Jerry’s Note:
1. While I was touching base with Nathan, I had this strong feeling that he’s so amiable and so willing to share his views. And he’s passionate about his calling as a brick sculptor; it all shows in his words.
2. Nathan’s exhibition together with his foregoing interview gives you a well-rounded profile about him. I shall revisit The Art of the Brick pretty soon.
(Source of all the photos on this page: Nathan Sawaya- The Art of the Brick)