Temporary art exhibit to grace Quad
Visiting artist Patrick Doughery will be adding a unique centerpiece to Bowdoin's campus throughout the month of September. Dougherty will work on the quad for three weeks to create a massive, free-standing sculpture, composed of hundreds of intertwined branches and saplings in front of Searles Hall.
"In the course of three weeks there will be a type of evolution," explained Curatorial Assistant Caitlin Nelson of the Walker Art Museum, which sponsored Dougherty's work.
"[Walker Art Museum Curator] Allison Ferris has been working to get Mr. Dougherty here for 5 or 6 years," says Nelson. "We originally scheduled him to come now because the museum was to be under renovations . . . and we wanted to still be able to display something outdoors while the indoor displays were closed." Renovations, which will keep the art museum closed, were slated to begin this semester, but now will commence next summer.
Nelson noted that there has already been a large student response to
this, and expects the anticipation to build throughout the coming weeks.
"We expect [the sculpture] to generate a lot more excitement from
the students . . . when they watch a pile of sticks become an impressive
sculpture," added Nelson.
"The natural spring and tension of the branches holds them together," the artist explained. "I begin by placing sticks in the ground, which act as the initial matrix from which I pull branches through, sort of a layering effect, and then go back to make it look like a feeling, adding spirals and designs in the branches."
During his three weeks here, Dougherty will be assisted by both art students and general volunteers in everything from the "harvesting", or gathering of materials when he first arrives, to the finishing touches on the day he leaves.
As for what we can expect from Dougherty, it remains to be seen. "I have some initial ideas. I made a site visit [in April]," Dougherty said, "but I don't have set blueprints. I'll begin with some type of initial framework and then, once I get a feeling for architecture and the area, we'll see where things go."
Dougherty's career began in his home state of North Carolina in 1982 and he quickly began exploring his unique medium. Explaining why he chooses to work with wood rather than more conventional materials, the artist explained that "some things just develop - when you work, you feel a natural affinity for some materials over others. The saplings are from nature, and it lives with which you draw, and the extension is interesting.
He noted that a large source of enjoyment in his work was his ability to meet many interesting people.
"A big point of interest in my work, too, is that I meet a lot of people while I work and get to discuss things of importance to me, such as people's feelings about space and sculpture, which often leads to stories about themselves. My work might remind someone of their grandfather's farm, or of a lilac bush from their childhood, and hearing people's stories influences my work as I get tremendous feedback about how my work makes people feel and what they like and don't like. It's always a tremendous experience."
Once the sculpture is finished, it will be kept up until the fall, when
it will be disassembled. There will be an opening reception at the Walker
Art Museum on September 28 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., after which Dougherty
will speak about his life and his work. Students interested in learning
more information should contact the Walker Art Museum 725-3275 or visit
Dougherty's website at www.stickwork.net.