A&M-Commerce Hosts Sculptor Patrick Dougherty

Beginning January 17, Texas A&M University-Commerce will host sculptor Patrick Dougherty on campus. Dougherty was commissioned last year to create a piece for the university which he will construct during his visit. He will hold a lecture on January 28 at 5:30 p.m. in the theatre of the Performing Arts Center, and the opening celebration of his A&M-Commerce installation will be February 5 at 4 p.m.

Dougherty is known for creating monumental designs from locally-harvested tree limbs, saplings and other construction materials gathered from the environment. His installations range from aesthetically pleasing visuals to stand-alone structures depending on their location. The temporary public artwork he will create for A&M-Commerce will require a three week installation process.

“We have looked widely around the campus here ultimately looking for places of activity for students,” said Dougherty. “We wanted to put it somewhere where people can really easily see it, and we found a great place in front of the library that has two kind of classic Texas trees.”

Dougherty plans to join together large structures with four to five different types of trees and materials gathered from the Commerce area. A unique twist to his work is that he invites members of the community to be involved. Dougherty will be working with A&M-Commerce students and volunteers gathering the sticks needed to complete the artwork during the first few days of his visit. He will then continue in the construction phase until January 30 when he will take a brief hiatus until February 1 with the completion of the project on February 6.

“We are honored to have Patrick Dougherty at Texas A&M University-Commerce to design a site-specific sculpture for our campus,” said Assistant Professor of Art History Dr. Emily Newman. “Our piece is going to be located in the heart of the campus – the large grassy area in front of the library. Additionally, I am teaching a graduate course, ‘Public Art,’ designed to facilitate our art MFA students’ awareness of these type of projects. These students will be volunteering for over 20 hours each and documenting their experience, which will potentially be incorporated into a catalogue that we hope to publish after completion of the project.”

A world renowned artist, Dougherty began his career in stick work after earning his B.A. in English and M.A. in Hospital and Health Administration from the University of North Carolina and the University of Iowa, respectively. The Oklahoma native chose to combine a love of nature and carpentry skills into one with Maple Body Wrap, his first work, which was included in the 1982 North Carolina Biennial Artists’ Exhibition. From there, his work has grown from single sculptures on pedestals to large scale installations requiring truckloads of saplings. He has constructed more than 230 of these sculptures in the last 30 years.

Dougherty’s works can be found across the United States and worldwide from Denmark to Japan. He has received numerous awards for his art, including the 2011 Factor Prize for Southern Art, North Carolina Artist Fellowship Award, Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, Henry Moore Foundation Fellowship, Japan-US Creative Arts Fellowship, and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. In 2009, Dougherty and his work were also the subjects of a major book published by the Princeton Architectural Press.

“I would like to say thank you to the people that are hosting me here. I think we’ve had a great site visit. I think we’ve gotten ourselves organized. The art department is playing heavily into the support of the project. I think it’ll be a great project, and the students will really enjoy themselves and the people who are involved in the setting up and organizing of the project. We’re going to leave a significant work, and the work will be compelling, I’m sure. It will speak, and people will really enjoy it. I think that’s the nature of a good sculpture, one that makes people feel enlivened, and they want to go look at it.”

Those who would like to volunteer to harvest sticks and help with the project’s organization can contact the A&M-Commerce Department of Art’s graduate assistant Bethany Hargrove at [email protected].

For more information on Dougherty and his work visit http://www.stickwork.net.