The University Record, March 18, 1998

Environmental sculptor needs your help

Dougherty's works sometimes evoke childhood memories of treehouses. Photo courtesy the artist

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

It's an opportunity to invest in a piece of art without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's an opportunity to relive the excitement of building a childhood fort while working with a noted artist. It's an opportunity to participate in art. All you need to supply are muscle, sweat and patience to help artist Patrick Dougherty with his environmental sculptures.

Dougherty will be working on Central Campus during most of April as part of the Environmental Theme Semester. Dougherty, the first visiting artist brought to the campus through the office of the University's arts coordinator, Mary Craig, is soliciting volunteers to help with one of his massive, site-specific sapling sculptures.

Relying on materials available locally, such as willow and maple, Dougherty utilizes the tensile strength of the natural materials to weave the saplings into forms that call forth childhood memories of tree houses, birds' nests or cocoons. With a knife as his only tool, Dougherty uses his strength and that of the pliable material to fashion forms that evoke energy and prompt interaction from the viewer.

Volunteers are needed to gather the saplings and to help with the actual construction of the installation on the northwest corner of the Diag at State and North University streets. The saplings, cut close to the ground but without disturbing the root systems, will be harvested from local areas, including property owned by Detroit Edison, March 31-April 2 during daytime hours. To volunteer your services for harvesting and/or construction, contact Mary Craig, 764-5123, or send e-mail to

Sidewalk engineers, artists and kibitzers are welcome to watch the growth of the artist's latest project and to take photos of its progress. Dougherty will be working 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. April 3-18.

An opening slide talk and reception will be held in the Art & Architecture Building Auditorium (Room 2104) at 4 p.m. April 1.

For information about the artist and other events, visit the Web at