Patrick Dougherty, a renowned artist and sculptor, has
come to Stevens Point to sculpt a structure from tree branches and sticks with
the help of students and volunteers from the community.
Dougherty creates his sculptures by hooking, weaving
and bending sticks together. He begins by anchoring branches into the ground
and shaping the other sticks around that base. He uses smaller, better-looking
sticks as a final layer to cover blemishes and make the structures more
attractive. When the structure is complete, viewers will be able to walk
between and even inside the structures he has created.
“I’ve had to figure out what birds and beavers already
know, and that’s that sticks have an inherent method of joining. They snag on
each other,” Dougherty said. “In other words, if you drag it through the woods,
it catches on every living thing. They’ve got an infuriating tendency to
tangle, and so that very tangle is the simplest method of joining that we are
using on hooking these sticks together.”
This sculpture was inspired by a garden Dougherty saw
in England. He saw large, clipped bushes there, and it gave him the idea for
this architectural structure.
Dougherty built his first piece in North Carolina, and
his career took off from there. He has created over 250 sculptures and has even
built internationally in Scotland, Japan and Brussels. He has also sculpted
within Wisconsin in Wausau, Madison and Sheboygan. He began his project here on
April 1 and expects to finish on April 23.
“I was in administration early on in my life, but this
has really been my love, and I’ve spent a lot of time in it,” Dougherty said.
“As the career has matured, I’ve spent a lot of time working with saplings and
trying to build things that will cause people to come running.”
Dougherty uses the assistance of volunteers to complete
his sculptures. There are usually up to six volunteers at a time helping on his
current sculpture in the sundial between the Noel Fine Arts Center and the
Learning Resource Center. Many students, mostly from the art department and the
natural resources department, have also been helping.
“I just love Patrick,” Kaleena Hastings, an art major
who has volunteered her time to help, said. “He is so easy to work with, and he
is so patient, and he really keeps you going. He really knows how to work with
people who have never done this kind of thing before.”
Students were working for almost a month before
Dougherty arrived to gather all the necessary materials for the project. The
sticks needed sufficient time to dry out before they would be suitable for use.
The sculptures are built mainly out of willow branches that came from the
Schmeeckle Nature Reserve just off campus and Tree Haven.
“I come by sticks honestly, as we all do,” Dougherty
Volunteers are still needed to help finish the
structure. Anyone interested in volunteering should email Keven Brunett at
Keven.Brunett@uwsp.edu, or sign up in room 163 of the NFAC. No experience is
necessary, and volunteers will be needed through April 23.
“I think that everyone contains the shadow of life of
our hunting and gathering past,” Dougherty said. “Kids know about that. They
know that sticks are weapons, tools, pieces of a wall. So we have kind of a
building instinct that we inherit from our forefathers, our deep forefathers.”