Bending twigs and twisting saplings
September 15, 2004 8:58 PM   Subscribe

Patrick Dougherty makes outdoor sculptures out of twigs. Unfortunately, his official website only has smallish images of his work, but larger images are scattered across the Web.
posted by Johnny Assay (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As an aside, this post was inspired by an odd bit of synchronicity: when I graduated from a small liberal-arts college in Pennsylvania three years ago, Dougherty had just completed an installation at my college the previous fall (see the link under the first 'e' for a picture.) This last spring, when I visited my sister's small liberal-arts college in Iowa for her graduation, Dougherty had just finished an installation there the previous fall. One of the stranger coincidences in my life thus far.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:01 PM on September 15, 2004

Wow. That is amazingly stunning. Wow. Thanks, Johnny.
posted by bitpart at 9:11 PM on September 15, 2004

Sorry to not have anything more to add, but this was awesome, and I couldn't let it go without saying thanks for this post. Had never heard of Dougherty, and was very delighted by the imagery.
posted by jonson at 9:49 PM on September 15, 2004

He should take the show to Burning Man, only problem is that someone might set fire to them during the phun.

But this is really very cool stuff, thanks for sharing the coincidence!
posted by fenriq at 10:51 PM on September 15, 2004

mmm pretty
posted by scarabic at 10:54 PM on September 15, 2004

They look a bit like fungus. Or things a precocious moth larva might wrap itself in on its way to becoming flighted. I dunno if I like 'em, really - once I move past the obviously interesting fact that they are whorls of twigs, they just seem sort of brownly hideous.
posted by Opus Dark at 11:57 PM on September 15, 2004

This is so very wonderful, Johnny. Thanks for the post, and thanks for putting together those extra, larger pics. I'm crazy about stuff like this, for example, so I find what this artist is doing, and especially the fact that his works so often echo certain organic forms, really fascinating.

And, since it's somewhat related, I'll snap up this opportunity to mention that I recently wanted to do a post on arborsculpture, early innovator Axel Erlandson's Tree Circus, and modern-day "arborsculptor" Richard Reames, but I found the subject had been somewhat addressed in a link from this nice post already. Some of Dougherty's creations (esp. the top and bottom images here) remind me of these other efforts.

Also of interest: "The Growing Village", a part of Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan, and its "Laughing Happy Tree Park", a park with living chairs, bridges, homes, and arborsculptures.
posted by taz at 12:12 AM on September 16, 2004

Great links, JA and taz! So cool how something made of former living objects can still look so alive. And the arborsculptures were especially interesting, too - love the Tree Park. Thanks, y'all. :D
posted by yoga at 5:17 AM on September 16, 2004

Absolutely fabulous, charming, and surreal. More like this!

There's already been a top-notch post about the circus trees of Axel Erlandson, by the way. Really top-notch.
posted by iconomy at 5:46 AM on September 16, 2004

You know, my old sculpture professor had a lot of scorn for what he called 'twig art', which was what a lot of the students were doing, usually finding sticks on the ground and sticking them together with other found objects. I think this is twig art raised to a level even he could respect. Cool shit.
posted by picea at 6:14 AM on September 16, 2004

Oh, man! Iconomy! I thought there had been something more comprehensive about that.

*Sings: "It had to be you, wonderful you, it had to be you..."*
posted by taz at 6:14 AM on September 16, 2004

The work is amazing, but the titles of the pieces were . . . what? I want to say bizarre? cutesy? pathetic? amateurish?

I mean -- "Sittin' Pretty"? "Easy Does It"? "Be It Ever So Humble"? Yuck.

I know, I know -- maybe it wasn't intended. I know artists are often forced into naming works by site committees and grant agencies and curators. But . . . yeesh.

It's too bad, because I do really like the work. I would just advocate for a little taste in the naming to match the work.
posted by mooncrow at 6:44 AM on September 16, 2004

For some reason, I find these Dougherty sculptures strangely unnerving. Something about the ├╝ber-earthy construct around inevitable void they all seem to have. They definitely hit some sort of caveman don't-go-there buttons in my psyche.
posted by jpoulos at 6:49 AM on September 16, 2004

Great stuff. Obligatory Andy Goldsworthy link.
posted by gwint at 7:57 AM on September 16, 2004

I like the cheesy titles, it seems much more honest than the half-expected pretentiousness.

Perhaps a week or two of standing out in the rain trying to get sticks and twigs to bend the way you want isn't conducive to arts-fartsy naming.
posted by cell at 8:09 AM on September 16, 2004

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