NPT Arts Break

Nashville Public Television's Weekly Window to the Arts in Nashville

Cheekwood: Patrick Dougherty’s Little Bitty Pretty One

Cheekwood LogoCheekwood
1200 Forrest Park Drive
Nashville, Tennessee 37205
(615) 356-8000

Patrick Dougherty
Cheekwood’s 2014 Martin Shallenberger Artist-in-Residence
Little Bitty Pretty One
on display through 2015

Patrick Dougherty, Cheekwood’s 2014 Martin Shallenberger Artist-in-Residence, creates large-scale temporary sculptures from sticks. Over the last two decades, Dougherty has installed over 200 projects in many public and private places including museums, botanic gardens, college campuses, and private residencies around the world. Every year he constructs up to ten of his signature sculptures on location. His home base is his handmade house of log in Chapel Hill, NC where he lives with his wife Linda and son Sam.

Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Patrick Dougherty began to learn about primitive techniques of building and to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. Beginning about 1980 with small works, fashioned in his backyard, he quickly moved from single pieces on conventional pedestals to monumental site-specific installations that require sticks by the truckload.

His approach to making his “stickworks” is both intuitive and carefully planned. The sculptures are either in conjunction with architecture or trees, or they are free-standing. He first visits a site to let his ideas percolate in the actual space. He then returns for a three-four week visit, first bringing tree material to the site, and then “sketching” the structure he envisions with branches. Working with a scaffold and occasionally additional volunteers, his woven wood sculptures gradually come to life. The final step is to add an aesthetic signature style to the structure by adding sticks where they make the surface look interesting, hatch marking, and other “drawing” techniques.

The final product or “stickwork” is always unique and site specific. As quoted in an article in Sculpture Magazine, Dougherty states his artistic goal as follows: “the success of a piece lies in capturing the essence of a place and then playing with what you make of that essence.”


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