Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sticks Entangle Easily

"Spittin' Image"
Clemson, 2001

Common Ground, the treehouse pictured in Grow Your Own Home was created by the sculptor Patrick Dougherty. Here's his story. A master of stickwork, Dougherty crafted the structures in New Harmony, Indiana using hornbeam trees.

New Harmony, one of the most memorable places I’ve ever visited, was a great utopian experiment, TWICE, and some of that spirit lives on. A likely setting for Dougherty’s art. After its completion in 2003, Common Ground became a New Harmony landmark.
Then on December 17, 2006 half of the stickwork structure caught on fire and burned. The entire work is coming down this month, and had already been scheduled for removal in the spring of 2007, even before the fire.
Dougherty grew up inspired by the North Carolina sandhill country:
My affinity for trees as a material seems to come from a childhood spent wandering the forest around Southern Pines, North Carolina – a place with thick underbrush and many intersecting lines evident in the bare winter branches of trees. When I turned to sculpture as an adult, I was drawn to sticks as a plentiful and renewable resource. I realized that saplings have an inherent method of joining – that is, sticks entangle easily. This snagging property is the key to working material into a variety of large forms. -Patrick Dougherty, Sculptor

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