Art of the Brick

7.15.15

The Art of the Brick®, the wildly popular exhibition featuring more than 25 large-scale sculptures crafted only from LEGO® bricks by Nathan Sawaya, is on track to become the most successful exhibition in the history of the Tyler Museum of Art.

The Art of the Brick is such a popular exhibition because the artist uses a familiar childhood toy to create powerful and engaging sculptures,” TMA Executive Director Chris Leahy said. “Children and adults are instantly captured by the creativity and design of these human forms. We’ve gotten calls from as far away as Tuscaloosa, Ala., asking when they can see this show.”

Since opening to the public Friday, July 10, the exhibition has eclipsed at least three Museum attendance records: opening day (730 visitors), single-day (1,186) and opening weekend (2,308), with crowds continuing to pack the venue at 1300 S. Mahon Ave. on the Tyler Junior College main campus.

The exhibition continues through Sunday, Sept. 13 during regular TMA hours of 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday (closed on Mondays and most major holidays). Admission is free for TMA members, $5 for adults and $3 for seniors. Students, children under 12, TJC faculty and staff, and City of Tyler employees are admitted free. For information, call (903) 595-1001 or visit www.tylermuseum.org

IN HONOR OF MRS. RALPH SPENCE

The inspiration for hosting The Art of the Brick came from Mary John Spence, longtime Tyler philanthropist, patron of the arts and an original Trustee of the TMA when it opened in 1971.

“Her primary focus always has been what is central to our vision: improving the lives of the children in our community,” Leahy said. “With that in mind, she generously partnered with us as Presenting Sponsor for The Art of the Brick, hoping young people would get exactly the kind of enjoyment from this show we’ve seen so far. The look on her face, both on opening night and last Tuesday when she saw for herself how much children were loving this exhibition, told us we had pulled it off.”

Additional support for the exhibition in honor of Mrs. Ralph Spence is provided by Dr. Paul Arnold, Eleanor Cameron, Betsy and Elmer Ellis, Virginia Hawkins Gatewood, Louise and Guy Griffeth, Verna and George Hall, Historic Tyler, Inc., Martha and Randy Key, Mrs. Barbara Shtofman, Tancy and Ralph Spence, Betty and Dick Summers, Judy and Charles Tate, Punkin and Cotton Turner, Cecil and Bernie Ward, Sherilyn and Patrick Willis, and Bitsy Wynne.

ABOUT NATHAN SAWAYA

Like most young kids, Sawaya started playing with LEGO bricks at a young age. But unlike most kids, Sawaya never stopped building, creating and exploring his own imagination. The award-winning artist has catapulted the iconic LEGO brick into an art medium all its own, transforming this construction toy into awe-inspiring and thought-provoking sculptures. The global touring exhibition that emerged from Sawaya’s unique perspective is the first of its kind to focus exclusively on LEGO bricks as an art medium, and has broken attendance records around the world.

“I use LEGO bricks as my 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,” Sawaya said. “I want to elevate this simple plaything to a place that it has never been before. I want to elevate this simple plaything to a place it has never been before. I also appreciate the cleanliness of the medium. 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.”

Sawaya was born in Colville, Wash., and raised in Veneta, Ore. He attended New York University, and lives and works between his two studios located in New York City and Los Angeles. Since his first solo exhibition, Sawaya's artwork has grabbed the attention of art critics and pop culture novices alike. His artwork has been shown in major art institutions throughout the world, and included in numerous prominent private and public collections. Sawaya is the recipient of numerous awards and honors recognizing his artwork and cultural achievements. In 2014, with the belief "art is not optional," he founded the Art Revolution Foundation for the purpose of making art a priority in schools and homes. His speaking engagements include Google Zeitgeist, TEDx, Yahoo! and the Clinton Library. For more information about Sawaya, visit brickartist.com or nathansawaya.com.