Artist Nathan Sawaya brings his work to Pittsburgh in hopes of inspiring young artists and engineers  

By: Sarah Gross

Days after the Carnegie Science Center revealed its new Scaife Exhibit Gallery, its first traveling exhibit, “The Art of the Brick,” premiered there. Inspired by the work of artist Nathan Sawaya, the show, which officially opened to the public on Friday, June 16, is the world’s largest display of LEGO art.  

The complete exhibit contains over one hundred pieces of art, and uses more than one million LEGO bricks. It has visited over one hundred cities and 22 countries.  

As Sawaya put it, “It all starts with one brick.”

Previously a New York lawyer, Sawaya says he chose LEGOs as his medium because they are child friendly and introduce kids to art history. They were also a favorite toy throughout his life.

Despite being in Greenland 24 hours prior to it, Sawaya insisted on attending the exhibit in Pittsburgh himself. He revealed his brand-new piece, created for and inspired by Pittsburgh, called “Three Sisters Bridges.” It contains over twelve thousand bricks and is inspired by the Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol, and Rachel Carson Bridges.  

“It combines engineering, design and creativity together,” Carnegie Science Center co-director Ron Baillie said of the exhibit.

The show contains over seven themed sections, starting with “Painting by Brick,” which contains imitation pieces of famous works of art. “In Pieces” is a mix of LEGO art and photography and a collaboration between Sawaya and world famous photographer Dean West. As visitors progress through the exhibit, the pieces get gradually more abstract, and represent Sawaya’s interest in feelings and nightmares and his struggles to fight negativity. Some memorable pieces include Sawaya’s most iconic work, “Yellow,” featuring a yellow man tearing his chest open, and “Dinosaur Skeleton,” a 20-foot long sculpture containing over 80,000 bricks, created for his young fans.

“My favorite piece is my next piece,” artist Sawaya said.

Partnered with, and traveling with the exhibition, is an interactive LEGO portion called “The Science of the Brick”, where adults and children can play with LEGOs to learn more about art and science.  

The Art of the Brick runs through Jan. 7, 2019. Visit the Carnegie Science Center anytime between 10:15 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.. Tickets start at $19.95 for adults, $15.95 for children, and $17.95 for seniors.

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