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Saturday, November 27, 2021

The right pieces: ‘Nature Connects’ exhibit at Art Center

Margaret Hurlberthttps://discovermuscatine.com
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa—Few kids (and nearly as many adults) will pass up the opportunity to play with Legos. Whether working through a series of steps to create a precise model or creating unique inventions from a bucket of basic bricks, people of all ages enjoy exercising their artistic and engineering skills using these simple plastic blocks.

Artist Sean Kenny has taken his passion for playing with Legos to a whole new level. The sculptor, who has exhibited his art around the country, creates elaborate statues entirely out of commercially available Lego bricks. From Nov. 12 through Feb. 20, 2022, Muscatine County residents can view some of Kenny’s masterpieces in the traveling exhibit, “Sean Kenny’s Nature Connects: Made with Lego Bricks.”

For the past several years, Art Center Director Melanie Alexander has watched for a higher profile exhibit to bring to the museum that she felt the community would really engage with. When she learned that Imagine Exhibitions, a company that produces touring exhibits, had availability for the “Nature Connects” exhibit, she embraced the chance to bring it to the Art Center. “It’s an exhibit you usually don’t see in a community the size of Muscatine,” she observed.

“Nature Connects” includes more than 20 of Kenney’s original sculptures. The collection includes many shockingly lifelike animals and their habitats, as well as other pieces that illustrate people’s connections with nature and ways they can protect animals and their habitats for generations to come.

Visitors to the museum may view “Nature Connects” any time during the Art Center’s open hours. They may also enjoy many locally made Lego creations in the hallway leading up to the exhibit. To take the experience even a little further, Living Proof, an organization that helps people who have cancer, their families, and caregivers, will host a special family workshop Dec. 4. At this free drop in event, an instructor will lead participants through some fun craft projects using Legos, such as using them to create stamps.

The Art Center also provides opportunities for school groups and local organizations to tour the “Nature Connects” exhibit. If you would like to reserve a tour for your class or for a group you lead, Alexander encourages you to call the Art Center at 563-263-8282 to set up a time.  

In art, few things intrigue people quite so much as humble, commonplace materials used for extraordinary things. “Nature Connects” takes this concept to the next level, taking some of the simplest toys and transforming them into stunning tributes to the beauty of nature, a particularly appealing feat during the cold dark days of late fall and winter when people crave the beauty and color of summer. As Alexander observed: “most people have had some experience with Legos. If they don’t come easily, you can appreciate the time and thought that went into it.”

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