Sculptor Patrick Dougherty, NATURE episode

Sculptor Patrick Dougherty, NATURE episode


well I always say of myself that I’m a sculptor and I don’t know exactly what that means but I like the moniker it’s the handling of that material often that I key off of i would say sticks give me a good ideas and part of that is that just touching them seems to speak of their imminent potential I get very enthusiastic at that point how’s it going Elsa? Is that the fastest tower of the world? I started out because I just simply love the wood I love trying to see what I could do with the bending of it I like to try to make different shapes as if I could make them stand up but I’ve enhanced that whole process of it by including people from the community and also organizations and trying to figure out what makes good public work and how you enliven people’s imagination and how you fit work in so that it seems to fit in space I’m intensely interested in the placement of things and the success of things that are public so I’ve come to realize that we have a lot of closets togethers out there and not only do they want to gather sticks they actually want to build things so we’ve done really well in having a constant flow of interested parties willing to throw themselves into a lot of work hey John how are you doing up there we start up leaving a basic spider web structure that is very random we’ve and then you can fill the walls you can wrap the doors whipstitch the top make the fritz on the top are you looking good up there Patrick says that everyone can be a stick working but there’s definitely some people are better than others yeah these things are green and so they have to be green they can’t be too can’t be too dry will it was a great one for basket making and so I use that a lot if it’s available maples up and down the East Coast in Florida you have to use one thing if you’re in Hawaii you might use another you strawberry guava about in the northwest you might use a vine maple or alter the Midwest has got a lot of Elms Chinese Elms and Russian elm and a lot of these things they just hate where do you get sticks both too often get them where the bulldozers have taken the big trees down and they’re waiting for the box store and these little saplings have come back up we’ve gathered behind sewage treatment plants behind the high school stadium down along the river I’ve learned that if you want to know who owns a piece of property just take a running chainsaw and sit it on the ground someone will be there immediately I was in the military in Germany the farming or crafts program was fantastic I repaired antiques i soldered i was able to weld i was just really able to immerse myself every night for three years and the ideas of making things in using different kinds of materials after being in the service I’ve forced myself to go back to school using the GI Bill and spent two years in unc art lab and really started to ask myself what sculpture was what art was and decided I really in fact would become a sculptor the second phase beyond making a structural weave is to try to status eyes the surface in other words I I’m kind of building a canvas and then drawing on it sticks are tapered so when you organize all your tapers in one direction you get a sense of movement from it little looping lines lift the whole weight of the tower if you have things that are very flat on the ground it’s it’s things very heavily so I try to make these little lines on the bottom that look like they’re swooping up hey how you doing where I’m a nice to see you one of the things we’ve done is been nice to people as they come around so we’re embedding this piece in the community now we hope that because we’ve been nice people will like it better and they’ll protect it and see it as part of their own environment everybody that walked by and I mean literally everybody he would chat with he’d invite them in he’d stop and talk to them and I asked him about it and he said that he felt he needed to make friends for the sculpture and that it wouldn’t be protected once he was gone and he wanted people to love it as he did if you make something that’s too abstract in certain sites it might seem uninteresting so this was a place where I felt like that if I made something that looked like an object or something that you could relate to is kind of a shadow building of some sort you know nature configuring itself as a as a pantheon maybe I was influenced by being in Washington lately and working at the Renwick because everything in the entire Washington area is based on the Pantheon and so it must have been infiltrating into my mind renovating the Renwick gallery in 2015 with an opportunity to remind our thumbs why this building was creature in the first place in a sense every museum exhibit as a potential for you to have an experience of wonder at the place where you may go to commune with art and where if you’re so lucky you might even be carried away in the moment but the Renwick we have a series of seven big pieces that are very amorphous in a way and they fling themselves up against the wall or they roll across the surface but it allows the viewer to go inside and then creep around the back because then go in another one and make their way from one side of the room all the way to the other as you walk through the exhibition you’ll see different kinds of installation some of them will remain but some of them won’t Patrick dougherty’s installation and John gratis installation will eventually go away this ephemeral quality really dovetails nicely with some of the evolution of the field of American crafts where focus has changed from craft and now we’re we’re thinking about craft and specific objects that exist over a long period of time to craft as a verb the act of doing something a certain way when you asked artists to weigh in on what it means to be amazed by the world out there it said something about where we are at the culture and in the world that they’ve gravitated towards the sense of nature as their most critical resource by bringing nature into the medium of the subject they are reminding us of the values of what is being lost and they are giving us an opportunity to reflect on what is most at risk in our world I see my work is being propelled by people’s concern about the environment we’ve come to the realization that each of us is not trying to do anything wrong but as a whole we started having a real impact I think that my work is filled a space in there where there’s some visual relief there’s a kind of nostalgia to some degree but in a real way it’s a touchstone for the things we care about in the natural world it reminds us of animal life it reminds us of simple shelter it reminds us of simpler times when we seem to be more in touch with the environment and I think my work comes into play it finds an audience on the cusp of some of these concerns I’ve worked about eight different pieces for Patrick and there’s something about every piece that strikes you that the other one didn’t this piece is the archways stone with the ceiling in it it’s always a special something that grabs the eye people like to add sticks they like to take them out and I take them out and put them back in somewhere else we will never look as good as today I think it’s sort of an organic thing and eventually it does have a life and it’s temporary it’s like any tree in the forest it’s going to not last forever it’s not real unless you can reach over and touch it and so I’ve tried to make work that has no barrier making it into a place where somebody can grab hold of it can push it can feel its properties can really experience it it’s much more fruitful it’s much more compelling allowing people to interact with them fully and get a sense of what it is I’m a seventh-generation Orange County native I actually live not far from the plantation how family was originally on be able to combine art in nature and my route to the mazing since I want to continue to make orange county great and seeing things today like stickler this is just something that adds icing to the cake when I finish the sculpture I’m kind of redundant I feel like there’s an equation there that’s my job to build something exciting and then I turn it over to the public and it’s their job to see what they say you

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