October 15, 2010

Patrick Dougherty Natural History

Patrick Dougherty has combined his love of nature with his sense of design and architecture to create over 200 woven stick works around the world.  Mr. Dougherty, with the help of students and volunteers at each of his project sites, creates a sculptural experience for the visitor.   He embraces the natural lifecycle of his material, which over time settles and decays, eventually returning to the earth.  Patrick uses locally sourced material for each of his installations.

“My affinity for trees as a material seems to come from a childhood spent wandering the forest around Southern Pines, North Carolina – a place with thick underbrush and many intersecting lines evident in the bare winter branches of trees,” Dougherty has said. “When I turned to sculpture as an adult, I was drawn to sticks as a plentiful and renewable resource. I realized that saplings have an inherent method of joining – that is, sticks entangle easily. This snagging property is the key to working material into a variety of large forms.”

I was fortunate to see Patrick's design work in person at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois in 2007.  He called the structure Xanadu.  His sculpture created a two story volume made entirely of sticks and twigs.  There was a cathedral like quality to the space;  the proportion of the building combined with the organic material was truly breathtaking.

If you would like the opportunity to see Mr. Dougherty's work, check out his current installation at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.  For three weeks this summer,  the artist and a team of volunteers constructed a monumental woven-wood sculpture in honor of the garden's 100th anniversary. His work, which the artist titled Natural History, will be on display through the coming year.

When asked about some of the words that came to mind as he contemplated what he wanted to build in Brooklyn, Dougherty smiled and said "lairs; a place for feral children and wayward adults."

Patrick Dougherty has a new book titled Stickwork, which offers images of his creative endeavors, and insight into his methods and his art.  There is also a documentary film in the works highlighting his career and process.


To learn more about the work of Patrick Dougherty and his upcoming exhibitions, visit his website http://www.stickwork.net



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One Response to “Patrick Dougherty Natural History”

  1. Anna Says:
    October 15th, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    We have one of his sculptures here where I work (a college campus) and it's magical.