‘Building, building, and building’: Catching up with LEGO brick artist Sean Kenney

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How many LEGO pieces have you seen at once? A few thousand? Maybe tens of thousands? Our exhibition Sean Kenney’s Art Made with LEGO® Bricks contains more than 1 million LEGO pieces!

Panda bears

Brooklyn artist Sean Kenney is the mastermind behind this exhibition, which contains stunning sculptures made of LEGO pieces, including pandas, tree frogs, polar bears, hummingbirds, and more. Together, these sculptures explore topics such as animal endangerment, the balance of ecosystems, and mankind’s relationship with nature.

Sean Kenney with the polar bears

The exhibition also features Kenney’s most ambitious project yet, titled “Growing Ideas.” The sculpture features a massive tree overlooking an intricately built city (complete with people, skyscrapers, and vehicles). Viewers are asked to consider what if a tree were like an idea? Ideas grow all by themselves, and so the tree could water itself and grow forever.

Growing Ideas

What led Kenny to build these stunning structures? We interviewed him to find out!

Liberty Science Center: Why are animals and nature important themes to you?

Sean Kenney: It’s interesting, because a lot of people think I must be a nature guy – that I love to go kayaking and I have 60 pets or something. But no, I'm not that guy. I live in Brooklyn, I don't have a pet, and I can't garden. So I think as an urbanist, it's incredibly important for us to pay attention to the planet and to nature. A lot of what I try to show here is the interconnections not only within nature, but also between mankind and nature.

LSC: There is a lot of beautiful inspiration behind these sculptures, such as the polar bear sculpture. Can you explain the story behind it?

SK: That whole thing came from watching YouTube videos of real polar bears playing together. And that's what got me: That love that they had seemed almost human to me.

So for me, this sculpture was about humanizing the mother polar bear, so that you can kind of empathize with her. Then, maybe you’ll care about her environment – and then maybe you’ll care about our environment.

Polar bears

LSC: Your sculpture “Growing Ideas,” featured in this exhibition, is your most ambitious project yet and took two years to make. Can you discuss what made it so challenging?

SK: There was so much to figure out, like “How can we make a tree that weighs as much as a car?” and also “How do you make a cloud?” Clouds aren’t solid, and so how do you make it without looking like a silly drawing or a cartoony blob? So we had to do a lot of experimentation with the texture and shape of the cloud.

Growing Ideas

LSC: And the city beneath the tree is filled with so much detail – it was built like a real city!

SK: Yeah, it's just jam-packed with details. There are people getting parking tickets. There are little Citi Bike docks. There's even a flying DeLorean [from Back to the Future] in there.

Growing Ideas

LSC: What’s the secret to being a LEGO brick artist?

SK: I don’t know that there’s a secret. No one taught me how to do all of this – I just learned by building, building, and building.

Snow leopard

Experience Sean Kenney’s Art Made with LEGO® Bricks on your next visit to LSC! There's even an interactive space for you to make your own creations with LEGO pieces.

The exhibit is available until Sept. 2 with the purchase of a Combination or Premium Pass.

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