Stick Sculptures Helping Connect People To Nature

Aug 11, 2017


A picture of Patrick Doughtery creating a sculpture
Credit PC: Smithsonian Magazine

  Utah’s landscape of national parks, trees and mountains have inspired artists. One artist will use inspiration from trees to create stick sculptures that will be found around Utah next year.


In the span of three weeks, Patrick Dougherty plans on using tree branches and other organic material to create a sculpture that fits its future location in Utah. While most artists enjoy more permanent works, Dougherty’s stick sculptures only last about two years.


“You get one good year, one pretty good year," Dougherty said. "I always say the line between trash and treasure is very thin when you’re talking about sticks. One moment you conjure it into a credible look and then the next moment it’s starting to fade.”


Dougherty first began creating stick sculptures by building his house out of natural materials he found on his property. He then realized that building houses wasn’t for him, but building sculptures was.


“Everyone has been a child," he said. "In childhood we have kind of the shadow life of our hunting and gathering past. If you ask a child about a stick they know it’s a weapon, a tool, a piece of a wall. So I kind of reawakened in adults those same feelings. It doesn’t take long for people to get the knack of working with them.”


Dougherty said he tries to make his art fit into the surroundings of the piece. He tries to compliment the area while enhancing the beauty of nature.


“If you organize the tapers of these sticks, if you view them as sticks, I mean, as lines with which to draw, you can start building surfaces that are quite compelling,” Dougherty said.


Dougherty will be building two pieces during 2018 in Utah. The first in September is a work outside of Utah State University’s library and the second is an indoor piece at Brigham Young University. To find out more about Dougherty's work, listen to UPR's Access Utah.