‘Park People’ sure to be conversation starters on the Strip

All that Lego play may pay off. Those haphazard structures littering living room floors could, in 20 years, lead to public art installations on the Strip.

That’s how artist Nathan Sawaya’s career ultimately started. And now, he’s exhibited Lego art around the globe, including an installation, opening Friday, at The Park between New York-New York and Monte Carlo.

Sawaya created nine life-sized human forms out of Lego bricks for his “Park People” installation. The figures, built from bright, primary-colored toy bricks, will sit on benches throughout the outdoor entertainment and shopping area, some leaning on their elbows, others looking over their shoulder, until Dec. 30.

Most of his body of work includes human figures, a subject he took on and stuck with because it allowed him to impart more emotion than the traditional linear Lego buildings. Sawaya tried to make the “Park People” more calm and subdued to attract people to interact with them.


“These figures, I hope, are something that people can really talk to,” Sawaya said. “They are there to listen, in a way. They’re very solemn, they’re not very reactive to their surroundings.”

He has seen people talk to them previously.

“I think they are the perfect secret keepers,” he said.

Passers-by are also meant to take the opportunity to add these “Park People” to their Snapchat stories and Instagram posts of the Strip’s bright lights and buffets.

“I think there’s a real good photographic opportunity here for guests to memorialize their trip to Las Vegas in a unique way,” Don Thrasher, president of Park District Holdings, said.

Legos became Sawaya’s medium of choice when he was working as a corporate attorney in New York City.

“I would come home at night and need some sort of creative outlet,” Sawaya said. “Some people go to the gym at the end of the day; for me, I needed to do something creative.”

First, that meant painting, drawing, writing and sculpting from more traditional materials. Then, one day, he recalled the quintessential toy of his, and so many others’, youth.

After creating a website for his Lego art, he began to receive requests for commissions. When his website crashed from the amount of traffic, he knew it was something he could make a career. So he did, quitting his job as an attorney to create Lego art full time.

More than 10 years later, his work has been exhibited worldwide. His touring exhibition, “The Art of the Brick,” has been passed among galleries throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia and Asia since 2007. Before coming to the Las Vegas Strip, the “Park People” were briefly installed on the White House lawn.

The work isn’t child’s play. Sawaya glues every Lego in place so the sculptures can withstand shipment around the globe. An entire human form like those in The Park take two to three weeks to complete.

“For me, it’s become my art medium of choice as I’ve focused on creating works of art that people will think about, that they react to,” Sawaya said. “But any child who has the idea to create artwork, even if they’re using a child’s toy, is still an artist, in my mind.”

Read more from Sarah Corsa at Contact her at and follow @sarahcorsa on Twitter.


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