by Victoria Bourne
Whimsy and wonder have landed at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Around one corner, a giant garden spider suspended from a tree; around another, a proud peacock with his colorful train unfurled. They’re part of “Nature Connects: Art with Lego Blocks,” an award-winning exhibit by New York artist Sean Kenney and crafted from the unlikeliest of materials: hundreds of thousands of colorful LEGO bricks.
This collection of more than a dozen organic shapes derived from linear structures inspires you to look closer, marveling at the artistry and engineering that brought them to life. Children may be captivated by their extraordinary size, but adults can appreciate their intricacies.
In a series of behind-the-scenes YouTube videos, Kenney says he must balance the inherent wispiness of nature – the delicacy of a dragonfly wing or the fragility of a pansy petal – with the sturdiness required for the sculpture to hold up to the rigors of public display.
He primarily uses big chunky bricks from an assortment of about 15 different but very standard colors, he says. He turns to the “funny pieces”–round things, slopes, windows, wheels and doors –to convey subtlety, particularly around the face. He wants you to feel the creature has a personality or feelings, Kenney says – that it is alive.
“The goal is to get that extra level of detail, without sort of changing the overall visual effect,” he says.
The display is open through June 7.