Stickwork is the name that sculptor Patrick Dougherty uses for his website because it seems to be an apt description of what he does – coaxing sticks and branches into sculptures and structures. His creations look like something you would see in a fantasy movie, where elves or other woodland creatures might live, or use as their magical fortress or hiding place. Dougherty makes 10 of these creations a year at botanical gardens or arboretums all over the world, and enlists volunteers from the surrounding area to help him make the pieces. Consequently, the individuals and organizations feel much more invested in the artwork. Dougherty is able to direct this enthusiasm into the creation of the work, and “listens” to the strength of his volunteers in ultimately deciding the direction of the piece he is creating. With the piece at the Morris Arboretum, “Waltz in the Woods”, the frozen ground from the harsh winter dictated much of the early development of the artwork. Chief Horticulturist Vincent Marrocco talks about the development of the piece and about the Morris Arboretum generally. We visit the exhibit where The Executive Director, Paul Meyer, tells us of the “Buildy” award the exhibit just received – not only for the design itself, but also for the subsequent and sustained membership increase over the past 6 years that the exhibit has seemingly brought to this institution. Exploring the exhibit, people can feel like they are soaring amid the trees or as if they are part of the nest of a giant bird. If that was not enough, our cameras are taken on the garden railway through log tunnels and over stick trestles, where the caretaker of the trains looms like a giant, and the presence of other people and children are the only things that contradict the notion that we are the only inhabitants in a magical world of the Morris Arboretum’s making.

A Waltz in the Woods



Patrick Dougherty, an internationally renowned sculptor, discusses his latest Morris Arboretum sculpture, “A Waltz in the Woods”.

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