World-acclaimed Lego brick artist Nathan Sawaya in New York City, a former lawyer, was the first to elevate Lego bricks to a fine art form (www.brickartist.com). He has some up-and-coming competition from the students at John D. Sutter Elementary School in Santa Clara.
“The things kids can think of when you leave them alone,” exclaimed visitor Nancy Garcia, admiring the inventive and fantastical student creations at the 6th Annual Sutter Lego Show, organized by parent volunteer Brandon Chun.
“Brandon has them create just what’s in their minds, not from kits. It’s nice to see something non-electronic,” said Garcia.
The Lego show featured the plastic brick creations of more than 50 pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students. Winner of the Awesome Award school trophy is 5th grader Leena for her art piece “Jacques Cousteau’s Inventions Under Water.” It carried out the 2019 theme “Deep 6.”
“I really like the ocean and I want to be a marine biologist,” Leena wrote in her project description. “One of the most famous marine biologists is Jacques Cousteau. He studied the ocean and made cool ocean inventions and films.”
Students worked on their Lego art projects at home during their winter break. Some fifth graders have participated every year since the Lego show began in 2014 and they were kindergarteners.
Lukas incorporated features from each of his five prior Lego creations in “A Trip Down Memory Lane.”
“It’s special because every year I’ve done something, and I progress and progress,” said Lukas. “It makes me feel so good.”
Jordan cleverly titled his project “War in Pieces.” It depicts a war in Africa between good and bad soldiers. He watches YouTube videos to spur his imagination for the dozens of creations he has made.
“I don’t know if we have an architect in the making,” said Jordan’s mom, Cheryl Baldovino. She said that she has seen Jordan’s creative imagination increase over the years of building with Lego bricks.
Jon’s sixth Sutter show entry was playfully titled “The Battle of Castle McHamcheesenugget.’
Second grader Bella was assisted in creating “Mermaid Land” by her first grade sister, Amelia.
“It’s really fun to get to show what you can do and be creative,” said Bella.
The toy company now known as Lego was born during the Great Depression of 1932 in Billund, Denmark, where master carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen (sometimes spelled Kristiansen) added wooden toys to his product line of furniture.
After several workshop fires, the idea of connectable plastic bricks as building blocks evolved. They were the refinement of a similar design by British inventor Hilary Fisher Page.
In 1953, Christiansen started calling them Lego Bricks, a combination of the Danish words “leg,” meaning “play” and “godt,” meaning well. The bricks were introduced to the U.S. in 1961.
The profits of the Lego company have waxed and waned over the years. At one point it even faced potential bankruptcy. Yet interest among children — and their parents — has continued, sparked by LEGOLAND theme parks, Lego clothing and movies.
Miniature figures were introduced in 1978. Themed bricks such as “Star Wars” in the late 1990s, followed by Harry Potter kits, further sparked interest.
“We’re in the era of the rebirth of Lego,” said Sutter principal Michael Fong. “It’s really taken off again in the last decade.”
The Sutter PTA sponsors and helps facilitate the Lego show.
“One of the great things about the PTA is that we support things that the entire school — all the kids — can participate in,” said PTA president Leslee Adler. “There’s nothing more universal than Lego.”