Sean Kenney: Art with LEGO bricks
Hummingbird     ‹ Back to portfolio
Photo of Hummingbird
66" x 32" x 76"        31,565 LEGO elements.        Completed April 25, 2012
Come visit! This sculpture and 26 others are touring the U.S. now through 2014. Over 25 larger-than-life sculptures created with nearly half a million LEGO pieces! Read more and come visit!

This giant Ruby-Throated Hummingbird magically hovers 8 feet in the air as it feeds out of giant flowers. The sculpture took my team and I over 4 weeks to design and 5 weeks to build with 31,565 LEGO pieces.

The number one question I get from kids is:
"How does he stay up???"
Answer: Tied to a satellite.

The sculpture was installed in April 2012 at Reiman Gardens in Iowa as part of my traveling exhibition, Nature Connects. In October 2012 it will travel to its next location, so stay tuned for updates!

Toes! :)

Many people are surprised to see that the trumpet flowers indeed have pistols and stamens. (My mantra, shamlessly stolen from Pixar, is to "sand the undersides of the drawers"... meaning I really feel the need to add all the details, seen or unseen, so they're there when you go looking for them.) I like knowing that my work will look great, from no matter what angle it's viewed.

Building it

The sculpture took over 550 hours to design and build by my team and I. Each piece is glued one-by-one and a steel armature helps keep the sculpture sturdy in heavy winds.

Jung Ah (above) spent over 160 hours doing design work on this sculpture.

Building sculptures this tall presents a lot of unique physical challenges... Not only do you have to figure out what the sculpture will look like, and how you will build it, but … How will you move it if it weighs hundreds of pounds? How will it fit out the door if it is too tall? How can you build 8 feet in the air if you aren't 8 feet tall?

The sculpture is so tall that we had to stand on stepladders to build it! (above) We put a trolly on a table to both hold up the belly of the bird as well as keep our LEGO pieces handy while we were up there. (below)

One day, while we were up on top of ladders building the wings, one of my assistants walked by and laughed, "Wow, it's getting so tall! Any taller and it won't fit out the door!" Shocked, we stopped and measured… she was right! The hummingbird wings are so tall and so wide that they would not fit through a standard door. So we redesigned the wings so they could be removed on steel pins and re-inserted after going through a doorway.

The entire sculpture was assembled in my New York City art studio, then custom-crated in museum-quality exhibition crates for my new show, Nature connects, which is currently touring the United States.