North Carolina-based artist Patrick Dougherty has gained an international reputation for his natural-wood structures and has created hundreds of monumental, site-specific sculptures around the world. His work is constructed from saplings gathered from local sources and shaped into massive, swirling forms as high as 40 feet.
During the last month of the exhibition Trees & Other Ramifications: Branches in Nature & Culture, Dougherty will bring his unique vision to campus. Hosted by the Spencer Museum in cooperation with The Commons, Dougherty will be an artist-in-residence during May, and will work with KU faculty members and students to create a large-scale tree-sapling sculpture outside The Commons @ Spooner Hall. The Spencer project will be constructed predominantly of Silver Maple saplings that were harvested from a densely populated, sustainable site west of Lawrence.
In his work, Dougherty combines his carpentry skills with his love for nature. In the early 1980s he began incorporating primitive techniques of building and experimenting with tree saplings as construction material. In 1982 his first work, MapleBodyWrap was included in the North Carolina Biennial Artists' Exhibition sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of Art. The following year, he produced his first solo exhibition, Waiting It Out In Maple, at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His work quickly evolved from single pieces on conventional pedestals to monumental-scale environments which required saplings by the truckloads. Over the past two decades, he has built more than 150 works throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.
This work represents yet another Spencer-driven collaborative opportunity for KU faculty and students. Matthew Burke, assistant professor of sculpture, is project site coordinator. KU film student Sandra Ristovska is filming a documentary about the project. Craig Freeman, curator in the Division of Botany for the Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center and associate scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey, was consulted extensively about site selection and the harvesting of saplings. Students representing diverse disciplines are assisting in the sapling harvest and construction of the sculpture. As well, Dougherty’s work will be virtually represented on the Spencer’s Second Life Island.
For their generous support of this project, the Spencer thanks the O'Connor Company-Piller Foundation, Reed and Stacey Dillon, the Capitol Federal Foundation, the School of Architecture & Urban Design, First Management Inc., the School of Fine Arts Department of Art & Design and Department of Theatre & Film, the Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, the KU Facilities Operations Landscape and Engineering, the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Dougherty will give an artist’s talk on his work at 5:30 PM May 21 in the SMA Auditorium.
To learn more about Dougherty, please visit www.stickwork.net.