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Start With Art: Patrick Dougherty

Posted on November 16, 2015 at 9:55 PM

Patrick Dougherty

Running in Circles 1996. Denmark

For me, Art school was a rabbit hole of artists as well as a rich history of legendary artists that used every imaginable material and platform for how and why they make art. Though many fascinated me, I continually returned to Nature Art. I am not sure if it was because I enjoyed being out in the Colorado mountains so much, or if I saw a direct correlation to spirituality with Nature art, but my fascination grew to a genuine interest to experience and explore Nature art for myself. I made many attempts at creating my own Nature art, some more successful than others. But I will never lose my genuine appreciation and admiration of Patrick Dougherty’s eerily lively Sculptures.


Patrick Dougherty was born and raised in North Carolina. He received his M.A. in Hospital and Health Administration at the University of Iowa in 1969. However he returned to the university of North Carolina where he received his B.A. to pursue and Study Art History and Sculpture. (Two of my most favorite subjects, see again I like this guy!) Dougherty’s work quickly evolved from conventional sized sculptures to massive sculptures that swiftly became internationally recognized. Dougherty blended his carpentry skills, his love of Nature and a unique blend of primitive techniques to manifest these enormous sculptures. He has now created over 250 sculptures and continues to rectify sculptures all over the world.


I had the privilege to experience his work first hand when he had an installation on the Colorado College Campus. I cannot recall how many times I would just go and sit inside his fort like sculpture. His pieces pull on the inner child in you. I realized that that desire to have a secret fort and hide away, truly never leaves the core of us. Dougherty’s pieces also have an eery presence to them. Sitting long enough it truly feels like the sculpture is “being” there with you. The energy of the storybook woodworking technique is nothing short of Masterful and quite honesty stunning to behold (and if no one is looking, even more amazing to touch… not that I did…;).

Call of the Wild 2002, Tacoma Museum of Glass

Though my husband and I were stationed in Washington State, we were about 13 years too late to see one of my most favorite pieces from him. (Honestly, I would have probably died and gone to Art heaven if this sculpture was still erected) Dougherty’s Piece ‘Call of the Wild’ Positioned at the Tacoma Museum of Glass, is one of those works that cannot be touched by time. The play of reflection off of the water where his pieces protect, is simply genius. Gravity seems of no power and honestly, no importance to this space. Again, a storybook setting in the midst of a very real hustling city again calls that inner child in all of us to recall the fire with in our souls.


One of his pieces that I also treasure, mostly for its difference from his installation pieces, is His sculpture ‘Out of the Box’, featured at the North Carolina Museum of Art in 2009. Though this piece is undoubtedly Dougherty’s work, he takes a much more decretive approach with this piece. Positioned much like a painting his piece is up against the wall and indoors. Yet some how, there is no lack of energy, presence, or that call to action of the childlike spirit in all of us. The textures and flow in his work some how becomes comforting the more you behold it. Your eyes travel over the piece repeatedly, some how never tiring.


Out of the Box 2009, North Carolina Museum of Art

If you cannot tell I adore Patrick Dougherty’s Art and I hope that you might feel that tug in your child like spirit like I do! We all need a little bit of that from time to time!


Easy Rider 2010. Washington DC

"Featured." Patrick Dougherty. Accessed November 17, 2015.

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