Lego refused to supply bricks for Ai Weiwei's latest project. See how his fans came to the rescue.

This is Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.


While his daring, unconventional work has made him a global celebrity, it's also made him unpopular with the Chinese government. But even after being harassed, maligned, and imprisoned, Ai continues to create and challenge the status quo.

Ai's latest work centers on free speech ... and mass quantities of Lego bricks.

The piece, set to debut in December at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, is a room-sized installation showcasing Australian activists and free speech advocates, composed almost entirely of Legos.

Photo by iStock.

Ai's team contacted Lego, wishing to purchase bricks in bulk. Lego denied the request, telling Ai that "they cannot approve the use of Legos for political works."

When Lego denied his request, Ai took to Instagram to share his disappointment.

He called out the Denmark-based company, saying "Lego's refusal to sell its product to the artist is an act of censorship and discrimination."

"We're he

And with just one post, Ai stirred fans young and old into action.

Ai supporters and Lego enthusiasts from around the world quickly stepped up to donate their bricks to his project.



Using the hashtag #LegosForWeiwei, fans are supporting Ai and taking Lego to task.



Roar Rude Trangbæk, a Lego spokesman with the best name ever, told The Guardian, “In cases where we receive requests for donations or support for projects — such as the possibility of purchasing Lego bricks in large quantities — where we are made aware that there is a political context, we therefore kindly decline support."

Have bricks around your house you'd like to contribute? Hold tight.

While Ai Weiwei vowed to accept every Lego offered to him, the logistics of that are still being worked out. But this incident and outpouring of support have inspired Ai to create "a new work to defend freedom of speech and 'political art.'"

And his team plans to set-up Lego collection points in different cities to support the effort.

In September 2015 Lego refused to sell Ai Weiwei Studio a bulk order of Lego bricks for Ai's artworks to be exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne on the basis of the works' "political" nature. Ai posted this notice on his Instagram on Friday, October 23rd. Lego's position triggered a torrent of outrage on social media against this assault on creativity and freedom of expression. Numerous supporters offered to donate Lego to Ai. In response to Lego's refusal and the overwhelming public response, Ai Weiwei has now decided to make a new work to defend freedom of speech and "political art". Ai Weiwei Studio will announce the project description and Lego collection points in different cities. This is the first phase of the coming projects.
A photo posted by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on

In many places around the globe, expressing oneself is a political act.

Lego bricks are the tools many kids (and adults alike) use to imagine and build a better future, create new narratives, and challenge themselves. It's not always perfect, and it's occasionally messy, but that's how the best stuff comes to life.

Photo by iStock.

Take a cue from your fans, Lego, and support the people who are shaking things up and inspiring others to do the same.


Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via @Todd_Spence / Twitter

Seven years ago, Bill Murray shared a powerful story about the importance of art. The revelation came during a discussion at the National Gallery in London for the release of 2014's "The Monuments Men." The film is about a troop of soldiers on a mission to recover art stolen by the Nazis.

After his first time performing on stage in Chicago, Murray was so upset with himself that he contemplated taking his own life.

"I wasn't very good, and I remember my first experience, I was so bad I just walked out — out onto the street and just started walking," he said.

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