Lego without limits on display at science and tech museum

Nathan Sawaya uses the tiny coloured bricks he played with as a child to create awe-inspiring creations that tour the world, and his exhibition The Art of the Brick opens Wednesday at the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

'These bricks can be whatever I imagine,' Lego artist says

Exhibit takes Lego to another level 0:41

Nathan Sawaya uses the tiny coloured bricks he played with as a child to create awe-inspiring creations that tour the world, and his exhibition The Art of the Brick opens Wednesday at the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

Lego artist Nathan Sawaya says he uses an average of 17,000 bricks to create each sculpture, which take anywhere from two to three weeks to finish. (Sandra Abma/CBC)

"I got my first Lego set when I was five years old," says the Los Angeles-based artist, and like many children he enjoyed building cars and trucks with the tiny bricks.

In 2002, Nathan Sawaya left his job as lawyer to become a full-time brick artist. (David Richard/CBC)

But it wasn't until he was 10 — when his parents refused to get him a dog — that Sawaya discovered what a bit of imagination combined with the little bricks could really accomplish.

'Adults see someone opening themselves up to the world ... kids see someone whose guts are spilling out all over,' Sawaya says of this sculpture, called Yellow. (Sandra Abma/CBC)

"I tore down all my [Lego] sets and used the bricks to build myself my very own life-size dog," Sawaya recalled.

"These bricks can be whatever I imagine. It doesn't have to be what's on the front of box."

More than 80,000 bricks went into building this tyrannosaurus rex. (David Richard/CBC)

Sawaya was working as a lawyer New York City but was drawn to making art, and in his spare time tinkered with his first love, Lego. In 2002 he left his firm and devoted his life to making brick art full time.

'When I was working on this dress the real challenge was to get that flow, taking these little square rectangular pieces and getting the feel of fabric,' Sawaya says. (Sandra Abma/CBC)

He estimates he uses hundreds of thousands of bricks every month, and spends an average of two to three weeks on each creation.

The Lego version of Michelangelo's David. (Sandra Abma/CBC)

The Art of the Brick is a survey of his works that includes original sculptures as well as Lego renditions of great works of art, including Michelangelo's David and the Mona Lisa.

The Art of the Brick opens May 16 and runs until Sept. 3. (Sandra Abma/CBC)