Primitive Ways in an Accelerated World

Patrick Dougherty is eager to show you all that sticks can do. As birds look for perches in architecture, he looks for ways to connect nature and architecture … and he uses sticks to do so. You may not realize it, but sticks are quite bendable. (And we can be, too.)

“I build a canvas, then I turn around and draw on it,” Dougherty.

He creates sculptures out of sticks and puts them on display in communities all around the world. (Check out his website to find the sculptures he’s installed in North and South Carolina.) In doing so, he often works with large groups, sometimes comprised of students, to help him create his magnificent works of art.

“If there’s one thing I’ve done right in my career, it’s learning to partner with organizations,” said Dougherty. “It’s really hard to dislike something, or try to oppose it, if you and your neighbors are working on it.”

What makes his sculptures unique:

  • They’re temporary. (They’ll eventually bio-degrade.)
  • They’re built in the open so everyone can see what’s going on.
  • They offer an opportunity for community building.

Dougherty said he cares more about the process than the product. “I love the idea that a sculpture could have the same life expectancy of a stick,” he said. Every once and a while, he’ll even set them on fire.

“For me, there’s no studio doors to close. There’s no place to hide,” he said. It turns out, he said, the people who are calling the police on the first day of his installations are inviting him to dinner by the end of the process.

He said likes producing his work in public because people approach him and want to talk. He also enjoys watching people learn about themselves as they help him create, and he loves that his work becomes a rallying point for the communities he works in.

Dougherty said he believes a good sculpture opens your heart.

Presenter: Patrick Dougherty, Sculptor