Members of the Auburn community and Auburn Forestry Department began gathering firewood and clearing underbrush for environmental sculptor Patrick Dougherty in September 2019.
Dougherty, also known as “the Stick Man,” is best known for turning sticks and saplings into sculptures. Dougherty has built over 250 pieces in the past 30 years in cities around the world, and has now brought his latest piece titled “Down Where Paradise Lays,” to the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Arts.
“Because I am a sculptor, I move place to place, but I wanted to leave a special mark while I called the Plains home for a while,” Dougherty said. “I used sweetgum sapling as my main material to create my piece specially for Auburn.”
Dougherty graduated from the University of Iowa in 1969, where he studied hospital and health administration and began featuring work at the North Carolina Museum of Art in 1982. His first exhibit, “Maple Body Wrap,” centered around using tree saplings as construction material.
What many people often step on or over as they run in the park during a breezy summer day or run over with their lawnmower as they cut their grass, Dougherty sees as tools for his work, he said.
“Too many sticks go unnoticed and can be declared the underdog in nature, but by being in tune with them, I come to realize their potential," he said. "I enjoy bending them, I enjoy their smooth texture and turning them into something extraordinary.”
Though days were trying and temperatures exceeded 90 degrees, Dougherty worked profusely on the piece, which took nearly a month to construct, he said.
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