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The Art of the Brick draws crowd to Graham

GRAHAM – Visitors stepping into the Alamance County Arts Council’s historic Captain White House on Saturday were immediately greeted by the elevated yellow bust of a man tearing open his chest, his LEGO brick insides spilling out. It wasn’t gruesome, but it made a statement.

And just like several other sculptures displayed in The Art of the Brick® exhibition, that statement was left open to interpretation.

Saturday was opening day for the globally renowned exhibition by artist Nathan Sawaya, which will be displayed at the Captain White House and in part at the Children’s Museum of Alamance County through October.

The sculptures – all built out of hundreds of thousands of LEGO bricks – ranged in subject material from portraiture and national landmarks to abstract figures and giant pencils writing “hello” in brick. But the sculptures depicting the human forms really drew crowds, and sparked conversations – or actions.

“We’ve gotten two couples to kiss in front of this statue,” said Arts Council volunteer Diana Miller, pointing to the red brick sculpture depicting two figures’ faces melding at the kissing point. 

“A lot of work, (Sawaya) leaves untitled,” said Ruby Manning, an Arts Council volunteer.

A larger-than-life replica of crayons, a skateboard, baseball and bat, and jacks game got a lot of attention, but the biggest draw in the room was the moat and castle rising from the center of “Pop-Up Book.”

im Crooks, of Durham, was one of several parents reading to their children the poem Sawaya had composed and printed on the open LEGO brick “pages” of the book, adding an interactive layer to the sculpture.

“These are so cool,” said Crooks, who brought his sons, Charlie, 5, and Joey, 8, to the exhibit’s opening. Hundreds of other people seemed to share that opinion, since at least 682 visited The Art of the Brick.