“If you take a child through a museum and you show them a marble statue they’ll appreciate it, but it’s very doubtful they’ll go home that night and start chipping away at a marble slab. But everyone has LEGO somewhere, right?”
For years, Nathan’s touring exhibit – The Art of the Brick – has entertained and inspired millions of art lovers and enthusiasts around the globe. It is an entire exhibition focusing exclusively on LEGO as an art medium. The creations, constructed from nearly one million pieces, were built from standard bricks beginning as early as 2000.
Born in Colville, Washington and raised in Veneta, Oregon, Sawaya’s childhood dreams were always fun and creative. He drew cartoons, wrote stories, perfected magic tricks and of course also played with LEGO. His days were filled with imagination. But when it came time for college, Sawaya moved to New York City and attended NYU. He attended NYU School of Law and became an attorney. But soon he realized he would rather be sitting on the floor expressing himself with LEGO bricks, than sitting in a board room negotiating contracts. It was then that Sawaya rediscovered his beloved LEGO bricks and indulged in his inner child to create what many believe is a new art revolution using LEGO as an art medium.
Today Sawaya has more than 1.5 million colored bricks in his New York art studio. His work is obsessively and painstakingly crafted and is both beautiful and playful. Sawaya’s ability to transform LEGO bricks into something new, his devotion to scale and color perfection, the way he conceptualizes the action of the subject matter, enables him to elevate an ordinary toy to the status of fine art. Sawaya’s art form takes shape primarily in 3-dimensional sculptures and oversized portraits. He continues to create daily with the brick medium while accepting commission work from individuals and corporations requesting works of art, looking for unique, eye-catching exhibits.
Nathan participated in our Open MAKE: Toys event, and was interviewed by Dale Dougherty in the McBean Theater.