LEGO Gaga

LEGO Gaga

I have collaborated with amazing artists over the years: Jim Lee, Dean West, and you could even count Jonathan Coulton. So it was fun when Lady Gaga approached me about collaborating on her next music video.

Gaga’s latest album, ARTPOP, has a lot to do with her life of being caught between both the world of art and the world of pop culture. This resonated with me since I am often creating pop culture references out of a child’s toy and presenting it as art.

One of the main themes we discussed was about making art accessible. And one of the main reasons I use LEGO bricks is to make the art accessible. So it felt like a natural fit to include my artwork in her new video.

It was fun to have Gaga in my art studio brainstorming ideas. Once we settled on a few core concepts I went ahead and started working on the pieces. You may note that there is more than just the Yellow sculpture in the G.U.Y. video. (Can you find them?)

We then traveled to Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA for the shooting. It was a beautiful setting and quite the production. Really have to hand it to the Haus of Gaga for putting together such an amazing group of people.

If you are curious, no, it’s not the original “Yellow” in the video. I constructed a new headless version just for Gaga. She truly embodies ARTPOP!

Check out the full video below and behind-the-scene photos here.

Career Architecture (Stepping Through)

Stevenson University in Maryland has a great program called “Career Architecture” that teaches students how to explore and prepare for their career choices. The program helps students to make decisions about their career path based on their interests and values. As the students proceed through Stevenson, they garner the skills to come out of the university ready to enter the ‘real world’.

I was asked to capture “Career Architecture” in the form of a sculpture, which was unveiled recently at a university event. During the unveiling event, the students participated as well with a full fledge building contest, which I was honored to be a judge.

The sculpture I created for the event is a multi-colored figure passing through a doorway, representing the journey the students take through the university. It also represents my personal journey from the living room to the kitchen.

Umbrella

Introducing the “In Pieces” collection.

Aussie photographer Dean West and I banded together and dreamed up a series of large-scale images that combine his award-winning photography with my life-sized LEGO statuary. We spent two years traveling North America scouting for locations that would be visually ideal for the story we wanted to tell about culture, society and specifically identity.

UMBRELLA (pictured here) is one of the seven images in the series. As with the other six representations in the collection (not pictured), UMBRELLA compels the viewer to deconstruct each tableau, thereby exposing elements of the scene construction, revealing the one-of-a-kind LEGO sculpture hidden within and identifying the cultural significance as well.

A sneak peak of “In Pieces” debuts at the Columbus Museum of Art, opening November 9, 2012.

The LEGO umbrella in this scene took extreme patience to create, but it does successfully function to keep water off of the holder. This particular image was shot on location in Toronto. Contrary to popular belief, there was no singing.

Crowd

Some of you may have seen this piece before as it has been touring in my exhibitions for a few years, but I hadn’t included it on the site. This piece is titled ‘Crowd’ and was inspired by the throngs of people walking the streets of New York City. The graffiti on the wall behind blended with the coloring on the figures creates an image that can be seen from a front-facing view. I hope you can SEE it.

Brick Carlton

I was honored to be commissioned to build Ettore Sottsass’ iconic work, the Carlton, out of LEGO bricks for the Moss Gallery’s holiday window display.
Murray Moss, of Moss Gallery, writes as follows:

“Winter, 2010-11 being the 30th anniversary of the birth of the design revolution begun in Milan, Italy called Memphis, and 2 years or so into the worst national economic disaster since the Great Depression, I recently turned (once again!) to Barbara Radice’s 1984 book Memphis, subtitled Research, Experiences, Result, Failures and Successes of New Design, for comfort and, longingly, inspiration.

In her words, and in those of Memphis founder Ettore Sottsass, I found both.
So, for our Holiday window, I decided to create a kind of ‘souvenir’ of this knife’s-edge moment, a spiritual/metaphorical artefact – a personal photograph of sorts, like the kind one takes of loved ones or friends when travelling to remember certain key moments (happy or sad or both) – not with the idea of ‘freezing’ the moment for nostalgia (i.e. not a kind of British Coronation Day coffee mug), but, rather, creating something tangible to function in the future as a kind of trigger, lest we lose all perspective by forgetting what happened 30 years ago this winter, or during those past 30 years leading up to now, or, in particular, during the last 2 years, when things were in general rather bleak and at times even perilous.

So this Fall, with the invaluable collaboration of Daniel Basiletti, Moss Product Manager, I commissioned renowned LEGO® artist Nathan Sawaya to build Sottsass’s iconic Memphis work, Carlton, using the modular building blocks created in 1949 by Ole Kirk Christiansen to inspire and enable children to erect the structures, terrains, robots, vehicles, etc. etc. etc. that exist in their imaginations, without needing ‘adult’ assistance – engineers, various contractors in a multiplicity of trades, financial partners, willing clients, etc. etc. etc.

Providing exact measurements and angles we took from an actual Carlton, we asked Sawaya to re-build Carlton using random-colored LEGO®. Using these children’s toy building units, and encouraging the artist to select randomly, almost carelessly, the colors as he went along, building brick by brick, I wanted to commemorate the fact that Carlton – or rather Memphis, itself – was inevitable – that it was a visceral response which was the result more of Human Destiny, perhaps built into our DNA, than an aesthetic or theoretical or academic artist’s ‘reaction’. In my mind, Memphis remains blurred with the opening scene from Kubrick’s film ’2001: A Space Odyssey’, where our ancestors, the Apes, reach a moment in time when they simply must discover tools.

Carlton was created, to me, through Destiny, and will continue to be re-built by our children and by our children’s children, forever, as the need arises. The LEGO® Carlton we display for this Holiday we hope is seen as a joyous celebration of our humanity, our imagination, our evolution, our tenacity, our better instincts.”

-Murray Moss, November, 2010

Pedestal

As seen in Style.com’s Holiday Gift Guide the unique column pedestal:
Elegant.
Distinctive.
Tall.
Thin.
Plastic.
Just like me.

If you know someone who needs a one-of-a-kind gift, be sure to contact me.

Iwo Jima Replica

I was honored to be commissioned to build a replica of the flag raising at Iwo Jima for permanent installation at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Using Joe Rosenthal’s famous photograph as inspiration, I sculpted the five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising the flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. The sculpture used over 100,000 LEGO bricks.

The National Museum of the Marine Corps will be a state-of-the-art institution that will honor all Marines and share their stories with the American public through remarkable interactive displays. It is scheduled to open in November 2006 and is located in Quantico, Virginia.

Overcome

A: Why doesn’t he just walk around the big white thing?
B: Because it’s a metaphor.
A: A metaphor?
B: Yes, the white block represents an obstacle. In life one must overcome obstacles, not just avoid them.
A: Oh, okay, so this guy is walking down the street and someone dumps a big ol’ refrigerator box in front of him. So instead of just walking around it, he goes and drags a ladder out and decides he needs to go over it. That makes sense.
B: Metaphoricaly speaking, yes.
A: I see. So would you say a guy who plays with a children’s toy all day is like a metaphor for someone who is avoiding growing up and taking any real responsibility?
B: Shut up.

Starry Night

I have seen this painting reproduced before out of LEGO and I wanted to try and add my own interpretation to the mix. I used fairly innocuous colors to capture the essence of the painting. I have no idea what ‘innocuous’ means.