Omaha celebrates Lego-inspired Art of the Brick

man holding gray cloud over the city with lego pieces
About 5,300 Lego bricks were used to create “Blue Sky” that incorporates the belief that not far behind gray clouds is a blue sky.

Next time a child asks you to buy them a Lego toy set, do it. You may be helping create the next Van Gogh or Michelangelo. For Nathan Sawaya, it became reality. H is one of the best-known Lego artists in the world. The former corporate attorney shares his art around the world, including Omaha.

“Art of the Brick” is currently showing at the Capitol District, at 12th and Capitol Streets, through Feb. 19. About 80 pieces – ranging from famous art recreations to original sculptures – make up the exhibit. With more than 1 million pieces, the Art of the Brick is the world’s largest traveling Lego display.

As you start your viewing, Sawaya’s beautiful collection takes you to art museums in Paris, Rome, among classic European city to see works such and the “Mona Lisa,” “Venus de Milo,” “The Thinker,” “Little Dancer” or even “The Scream.” Built with thousands of Lego pieces each, the recreations resemble actual paintings. It’s only when you get close that you notice the pixilation of the bricks.

Mona Lisa in Legos
Portrait of “Mona Lisa” created with Lego pieces.

A display of multiple Crayola crayons impressed me. Sawaya’s labor and creativity shows in his work, as he used almost 4,500 Lego bricks to create the crayon set.

Crayons made from Legos
One of my favorite displays at the exhibit.

The artist uses new and recycled bricks to create his pieces. “The Baseball Player” consists of about 8,100 recycled bricks. The pieces were used and played with by people before they became the ball player.

Pixelated art baseball player
When you look at pieces closely, you can see the pixalation, which creates a unique view of art pieces.

The human body and people’s emotions play roles in the exhibit. From the emotion of breaking out of a box to transform into what you are meant to be to lovers sharing a kiss, the emotion comes across as real. None more so than a piece titled “My Boy.” Sawaya’s parents told him a sad story that led him to create the sculpture of a man holding his son’s limp body in his arms. The 22,590-Lego brick piece took Sawaya two months to create.

Lego piece of man holding body in his arms
You can feel the sadness and loss in this piece.

Movement stands out in some of the art work. Created with about 11,000 Lego pieces, a swimmer is featured in the middle of a stroke, enhanced with a moving blue light.

Lego swimmer
About 11,000 pieces were used to create this swimmer.

The grand item on display is a Tyrannosaurus rex. The fossil-looking piece is secured with a series of wires hanging from the lofts.  Made with more than 80,000 Lego bricks, the T-rex took a summer to build.

T-rex model made with 80,000 legos
More than 80,000 pieces and months of work went in to creating this T-rex.

Sawaya joined forces with photographer Dean West for a mixed-media exhibit, “In Pieces.” It used Lego pieces, such as a dog, umbrella, clouds, even a dress, as key aspects of photographs. One photo that stood out involved a woman wearing a Lego dress standing outside a theater in inclement weather.

A model wears a red dress made from Lego bricks.
A model wears a dress made from Lego bricks.

“Art of the Brick” is a must-see. The pieces are beautiful, as each tells its own story. Check out the website for hours and prices. While you’re there, grab a photo with a Lego “Forrest Gump,” park bench and chocolate box included.

Bench photo op similar to Forrest gump
Feel free to pose with the Lego figure on the bench.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Art of the Brick for the complimentary visit. However, all opinions and views are ours.