Have Twins, Will Travel

The Art of the Brick



Boston, Mass – There are many reasons why Voting Day is great for kids: stickers, bake sales, and… no school!


We took the opportunity to check out the Art of the Brick, Nathan Sawaya’s cool LEGO art exhibit that is currently on display in Faneuil Hall (not Fenway Hall, as you might have heard from the twins).

It’s not the Lego Movie. It’s not Legoland. It’s an art exhibit. A LEGO art exhibit. As Sawaya explains in the introductory film, people make sculptures out of all sorts of media, but he is the first to make his sculptures out of LEGOs. (Ahem, he is obviously not the first. He is just the first to call it “art” and put it on display and charge $20 for people to see it.)

DSC_0541To be sure, Sawaya does some amazing things with LEGOs. And to my mind, it does count as art. The first two rooms of the exhibit contain Sawaya’s replicas of famous masterpiece paintings and sculptures. Some of the paintings are impressive two-dimensional recreations, while others have been transformed into three-dimensional sculptures depicting the forms and people in the paintings. Part of the fun was recognizing and identifying the already well-known pieces. But even the twins (who didn’t recognize or identify anything) liked examining the sculptures and comparing them to the photographs of the originals.

DSC_0562The second half of the exhibit was Sawaya’s original art, which was in turns funny, thought-provoking, and a little disturbing.  And fun. Mostly, it was fun.

“Hey, what happened to that guy’s hands?”

“They fell off!”

Sawaya has provided a description of each piece, explaining its meaning. This was a little more explanation than was warranted. (Art is meant to be interpreted by the viewer, no?) But I guess it’s interesting to learn what the artist was thinking and feeling while creating the pieces.

The descriptions are just one example of the way that the exhibited is overly scripted, in my opinion. Admission is by timed ticket. Together, everyone watches a short film, before proceeding to the artwork. (Despite the excessive organization, our group of a couple dozen — mostly kids — still waited 15 minutes in a crowded room for the film to start.)

And significantly, there is no touching allowed, with one exception. Just before the exit, all guests are invited to write their name on one LEGO — exactly one — and snap it onto a sculpture that will eventually be Fenway Park. So we did our part toward building the Green Monster. It was fine, but that was it. There was no other opportunity for building or playing or knocking down.

I get it — it’s artwork! Look, but don’t touch!

But it would be nice if there was also some interactive art, as it were. Hands-on exhibits, where visitors can test out their own ideas and create their own LEGO art. Children obviously make up a large part of the target audience here (as evidenced by the stuff for sale in the gift shop). So why not inspire their creativity with the artwork, then let them exercise their creativity.

Ironically, this was a big theme of the film and the artwork signage throughout the exhibit. Be true to yourself! Follow your passion! Do your own thing! Be creative!

(But not here. Just put one brick on the stack of bricks and move along. Thank you.)

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