A Chip Off The Old Block

Artist Sean Kenney brings LEGOs to life at McKee Botanical Garden.
Sean Kenney puts the finishing touches on a butterfly wing.

Thirteen years ago, Sean Kenney walked out of work at a financial firm and built a new life on LEGOs. A LEGO lover since the age of four, Kenney often created intricate structures made of thousands of bricks in his spare time; so when his days opened up he focused on becoming a master builder and then the first LEGO-certified professional in the world. 

“My parents used to think it was odd that I would only ask for LEGO kits on my birthday or for Christmas. I kept building LEGO models all through childhood and even into my teenage and adult years,” says Kenney, a self-taught artist. A published cartoonist and a graphic designer, he says that with all media, he was always “figuring it out as [he] went.” It turns out he’s a quick study. In the past decade Kenney has been commissioned to create contemporary LEGO sculptures for Mazda, Nintendo, JP Morgan Chase & Company, Samsung, Google and McKee Botanical Garden. His “Nature Connects” exhibit, which has broken attendance records around the world, opened at McKee in 2014 and will return to the garden from November 5, 2016 to May 7, 2017. Featuring 13 larger-than-life sculptures built with more than 300,000 LEGOs, the exhibit celebrates the interconnectedness of all living things, just as one LEGO connects to another.

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