Renowned Sculptor Patrick Dougherty To Create Stunning Artwork At The Morton Arboretum
Unique Wooden Sculpture Celebrates Trees: Art In Nature, Nature As Art
LISLE, IL (February 16, 2007) – Call of the Wild. Headstrong. Threadbare. Simple Pleasures. Triage.
No, they’re not a group of book titles. They’re wooden sculptures as intriguing and fascinating as their provocative names. All were created by internationally-acclaimed artist Patrick Dougherty, who has received multiple awards and honors, including three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. He begins sculpting another such larger-than-life creation at The Morton Arboretum on April 6. The exhibit is scheduled for completion on Arbor Day, April 27, when Dougherty formally names his work. The sculpture will remain on display through the year.
The artist-in-residence will twist, contort, and intertwine saplings, branches, and twigs by the truckload into a unique form that’s fun for visitors to look at, engaging, and educational as well. The Arboretum commissioned the sculpture to help visitors appreciate trees on a deeper level, and to encourage them to plant and conserve trees. Dougherty shares these goals.
“In my personal life, I’ve been very interested in there being more trees, and less destruction of habitat,” Dougherty explained.
Dougherty begins by digging postholes and inserting wooden poles. He then lays branches and twigs so they “snag” together, working with scaffolding as the sculpture grows. Soon, the creation takes form and seemingly comes to life, stimulating the imagination.
Dougherty’s works always capture the beauty of nature, often in a whimsical way. His more than 175 sculptures around the world – some 25-feet tall – have been nests, cocoons, shelters, or his version of human-made structures such as huts, haystacks, and even household items. The sculptor will not decide precisely what shape his Arboretum creation will take, until he starts weaving it.
The project represents a rebirth of the saplings, branches and twigs that would have been discarded. The materials are coming from a nursery that’s closing, and from existing stands that require thinning as part of their normal management.
Many feel that watching Dougherty create the dazzling work is just as exciting as viewing the finished product. Volunteers will assist the artist as he works, and Dougherty – an affable, down-to-earth fellow – is happy to chat with the volunteers, or the visitors who enjoy watching him work.
The exhibit, in the Pine Family Collection, is free of charge with Arboretum admission.
“The Dougherty exhibit will encourage discussion about trees and how trees shape our view of the world. The Arboretum will be offering courses concerning everything from twig-formed garden art, to trees as a habitat, to nature photography,” said Jan Little, Arboretum Assistant Director of Education.
The Patrick Dougherty sculpture is the featured component of artisTree, a year-long Morton Arboretum initiative celebrating people’s relationship with trees. This includes ongoing drop-in programs in the Children’s Garden, guided walks, art exhibits, other themed events, and adult and family education programs throughout the year. Dougherty will also conduct a ticketed, “Lakeview Chat” at the Arboretum at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 19 in the Ginkgo Restaurant. Arboretum members only may purchase tickets from March 1 – March 30, and anyone may purchase tickets thereafter.
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized 1,700-acre outdoor museum with collections of more than 3,800 kinds of trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world. The Arboretum's beautiful natural landscapes, gardens, research and education programs, and year-round family activities support its mission – the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Conveniently located at I-88 and Route 53 in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Arboretum Visitor Center hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in January, February, November and December. From March through October, the Visitor Center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Grounds open at 7 a.m. 365 days a year, and close at 7 p.m. or sunset, whichever is sooner. The Children's Garden is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CDT) and 9:30 to 4 p.m. (CST). Visit www.mortonarb.org or call 630/968-0074 to learn more.
Media Contact: Gina Tedesco, 630-725-2103,