Lego Art for Social Change

In adults, we typically ignore the value of play. Yet, play and art are established treatments for mental illnesses, addictions, grief, or abuse. In fact, locally KW Self-Help, Grand River Hospital's Adult In-Patient Mental Health Unit, and other community resources offer regular art programs for adults. Creation can heal.

Lego bricks are a ubiquitous toy for children around the world, but building with Lego bricks can have therapeutic value for helping adults overcome their struggles.

As an art medium, Lego bricks have many unique advantages. The barrier to getting started is low. Whereas many adults might be afraid of the challenge of painting or writing, Lego bricks practically build themselves. Unlike writing, dance, or drawing, Lego has instructions for many creative builds, further reducing that fear and anxiety. For adults too distracted to "think creatively", following the instructions can be a peaceful meditation that distracts them from their current struggles.

The greatest advantage Lego bricks have is there seemingly limitless possibilities. In fact, just six 2x4 bricks can be built into over 900 million different configurations. Nonetheless, despite staggering possibilities, it is a system that requires no written instructions or language to get started. As well, Lego is endlessly reusable, whereas a canvas or paper, markers and paint are not. It can be purchased at any number of locations, not just at specialized art stores. And unlike most other art media used in therapy, it takes physical form, similar to a sculpture or pottery but without the need for expensive machinery or long "cooking" times.

I seek to create physical spaces locally for adults to use Lego bricks as art and play therapy. As well, I am planning a mental health Lego art exhibit, bringing creations from around the world to a local space.

Funded by Kitchener-Waterloo (February 2019)