Usually associated with children, Legos aren’t regularly considered for their merit as an artistic medium. One Sacramento native is out to change that, building functional furniture and sculptures out of the famous bricks.
David Tracy, who grew up in East Sacramento, rediscovered his love of Lego while studying architecture at UCLA. He translated the techniques he learned in architecture school from buildings to sculpture, and began building art from Lego.
Tracy’s art will be displayed in Rancho Cordova in early January at the Mills Station Arts and Culture Center. The free exhibition, called “Bricking Bad,” will include sculptures, Tracy’s signature lamps and a brand new series of Wonder Woman portraits.
“My mission here is to show that it doesn’t matter what medium you’re working with, you can do something amazing with it,” Tracy said. “I think Lego can be even more awe-inspiring, because people have these preconceptions about what you can do with it.”
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Tracy collaborated on the Wonder Woman portraits with DC Comics illustrator Judit Tondora. The two met in Hungary while Tracy was doing volunteer work with a group of local students who build Lego art.
Tracy said Tondora drew four original Wonder Woman portraits in the style of four eras: the 1940s, 1970s, 1990s and 2000s.
Tracy then built the portraits into 3-by-5-foot Lego murals. The murals will be displayed alongside the original illustrations at the exhibition.
“His work is really exciting,” said Cheryl Gleason, event coordinator at the MACC. “(The murals) really depict how Wonder Woman was depicted throughout different generations. The ‘50s one looks like it really is from the 1950s.”
To build his sculptures, Tracy models them in CAD, an engineering software. Then he transcribes them to figure out his building process, and orders the bricks. He said he can estimate how many bricks he’ll need for a piece just by looking at it.
Then the work begins — small sculptures take just a half day to a day’s work, but he’s spent several weeks building larger sculptures, and put hundreds of hours into his biggest ones, he said.
Tracy said “Bricking Bad” will have pieces from “all across the spectrum” of his art. There’s a 6-foot green man, which took top prize in sculpture at the Orange County Fair; sculptures of food originally built on a livestream for Tastemade, a food website; pop art in the style of Andy Warhol; and Tracy’s personal favorite — his lamps.
Tracy’s light fixtures are the centerpiece of his furniture endeavors, although he has also built tables and vases. They’re fully functional, Tracy said, and his buyers display them as functional art in their homes.
“The stuff I think I do best is the lamps,” Tracy said. “...I’ve been doing lamps a long time, and I think they’re really awesome.”
Among the lamps at Tracy’s show will be the “Splash of Color” series, with sixteen identical lamps, each made in a different color of Lego.
Gleason said the event will be great for all ages. To make it more interactive for children, the MACC will have a Lego “maker’s table” so kids can build their own creations, Gleason said. On Friday nights during the exhibit, free Lego movies will be shown and free popcorn provided.
“I really intend for this to be something adults enjoy, and I’d like it if kids can get inspired by it,” Tracy said. “I really hope to show that it can be great for anybody.”
If You Go
What: “Bricking Bad” Lego art.
Where: Mill Station Arts and Culture Center in Rancho Cordova. The MACC is located at the Mather Field/Mills Station light rail station.
When: Jan. 3 to 5 and 10 to 12. The artist’s reception is at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. The gallery is open from 3 to 8 p.m. Jan. 4, 10, and 11, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 5 and 12.