Middlebury College Museum of Art

News & Events

Environmental Artist Joins with Community to Create Massive Sculpture from Saplings

August 16, 2007

Exhibition “Art Now: Patrick Dougherty” also to be on display

September 18–December 9, 2007

For immediate release: 8/16/07
For further information contact: Emmie Donadio, Chief Curator, (802) 443–2240, donadio@middlebury.edu

Middlebury, VT— Internationally known sculptor Patrick Dougherty will be in residence at Middlebury College this September to create a large-scale, site-specific sculpture in front of the college’s Center for the Arts. Located on the lawn facing Rte. 30, Dougherty’s work will be conceived and executed on site and in full view of all who pass by the building during the period of its creation. Using saplings harvested locally, the artist will draw on volunteers from the college and the surrounding community to help him build his architecturally-scaled art work, which will be completed in the course of his three-week Middlebury residency, from Sept. 10 to 28.

Known for his ingenious architectonic structures, Dougherty has a 20-year track record for completing such ambitious assignments. He has created installations—by invitation—at venues all over the world. In addition to museums in Japan, Europe, and this country, he has been the guest of college campuses, secondary schools, airports, municipalities, and public and private parks. His website www.stickwork.net offers a full account of the geographical range of his travels and accomplishments. Noteworthy among these are recent works created at Cornell University; Brown University; Dingwall, Scotland; Raleigh, North Carolina; New Harmony, Indiana; Misima, Fugino Machi, and Chiba, Japan; Honolulu, Hawaii; and the Lacoste Campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design in France.

In its fall “Art Now” installation, on view from Tues. Sept. 11 through Sun. Dec. 9, the museum will mount an exhibition of photographic and video documentation drawn from a number of Dougherty’s prior commissions.

The titles of Dougherty’s works suggest an ongoing interest in wordplay as well as art construction. His projects, which often reach startling scale, at first glance appear to be “found,” or discovered, structures. The artist’s predilection for graceful swirls and coils constructed from the twigs and saplings available to him allude ultimately to the forms of hives, cocoons, lairs, and nests. But whether they are ornamental embellishments on the facades of buildings or habitable shelters intended for occupation, his imaginative projects are eye-stopping.

Dougherty’s unique and signature enterprise is to work locally, engage the community in his project, make use of indigenous materials, and leave behind a standing testament to the synergy of the collaborative process. At Middlebury his visit is sponsored by the College’s Committee on Art in Public Places, funded by the College’s “One Per Cent for Art” initiative, and the College’s Museum of Art. With additional cooperation from the staff of Facilities Services, Public Safety, the Program in Studio Art, and the student group VACA (Vitality of the Artistic Community Association), the project will be organized and energized by the artist himself. In addition, the Middlebury College student population and local secondary school students, as well as the general public, are invited to participate. Everyone is invited to stop by during the course of the installation, whether to assist in its construction or just contemplate its progress.

Preparations for this project began with Dougherty’s visit to campus in April 2006. In accordance with his practice, the sculpture will remain on view for as long as its structural integrity is secure and as long as it can survive the Vermont climate. When it is deemed ready for removal, its materials will be returned to the earth.

Daniel Houghton, Middlebury Class of 2006, will be documenting the Dougherty residency and its resulting work of art. Local craftsman Stephen Keith and Andrew Lynch (Middlebury Class of 2003) will be assisting the artist and organizing the corps of volunteers. Sign up sheets and information for interested volunteers will also be available in the Museum, as well as through a link on the College website:http://community.middlebury.edu/~sticks.

Dougherty received a bachelor’s degree. from the English department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a master’s from the department of health at the University of Iowa. He also did postgraduate work in art at Chapel Hill.  Undeniably a commanding and vivid presence, Dougherty will give a public talk about the range of his projects on Wed., Sept. 19, at 4:30 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall.

The Middlebury College Museum of Art will open for the fall season on Tues. Sept. 5. It is free and open to the public from Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed on Mondays. The Museum is accessible to people with varying disabilities. Parking is available in the Center for the Arts parking lot. For further information, please call (802) 443–5007 or TTY (802) 443–3155, or visit the Museum’s website at http://museum.middlebury.edu/.

For information about volunteering for the Dougherty project please contact sticks@middlebury.edu.