In August, I was taking some time off outside of New York City – where I’m based – and I ended up at Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, situated in Virginia’s picturesque Shenandoah region.
The feature exhibit is called “Nature Connects” and consisted of art in the form of Legos. One of the best elements of this particular exhibit is that all of the pieces were displayed in the museum’s gardens, not inside a gallery. Outside, amongst flowers, trees, ponds, streams, birds, butterflies, and ducks, on a gorgeous summer day – were the dreamlike Lego sculptures that appear as they’ve been digitally implanted in the landscape.
The artist, Sean Kenney, was the first “Lego Certified Professional,” now one of only 19 worldwide. He creates incredible sculptures, using Lego bricks, that promote the Lego brand. Created with over 3 million Lego pieces, Nature Connects is an award-winning, now touring North America, Asia, and Europe.
After the visit, I was interested in learning a little more about the sculptures and the process to create them so I spoke with Kenney via Instagram and email, and here are some responses to my questions.
What is the time range required to produce each sculpture? How many people are typically involved?
Depending on the size of the sculpture, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months! And if the model is something that needs to be uniquely recognized, I spend a lot more time making sure it’s perfect.
I have a whole team of artists and helpers that are a big part of creating the sculptures. There are 12 of us here at my studio building and designing models, welding armatures, etc, as well as 4 folks that handle logistics and installations.
What got you started down the path to becoming one of the few people in the world with expertise in Lego Art?
I’ve always loved to create. Even as a young child, drawing, and designing were a big part of my life. I was a total “Lego maniac” and Lego toys were usually the only toys I ever asked for when my birthday would come around each year. They were something that were always there as a way to create and express myself. I kept building Lego models all through childhood and even into my teenage and adult years. My models slowly became more involved and elaborate as I got older.
People started commissioning Lego sculptures from me, or asking me to attend an events. As a result, in 2005 I started working with The Lego Group to design a program that could officially recognize and support people like me, so that I could reach even more people and spread the word about Lego-coolness even further. From that, Lego Certified Professionals was born, and I became the first. Now there are 19 of us around the world; we all know each other very well, keep on top of each other’s work, do projects together, and learn from each other by sharing our experiences.
How do you keep the Legos together? Do you seal the outside?
The outdoor sculptures are sealed with a UV lacquer to resist fading and weathering, but what holds them together is glue and the natural “clutch power” of Lego bricks.
Editor’s note: The larger sculptures have an internal structure of steel rods and plates to provide support and balance.
Is this the only art that you create or are there other areas such as painting?
I was always drawing as a kid and was a published cartoonist by the time I was a teenager. I took a few fine art classes in college but just for fun, and became a graphic designer during the dot-com era but again, just always figuring it out as I went. 🙂
Learn more at SeanKenney.com and Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.