One-of-a-kind piece created on-site by sculpture artist Patrick Dougherty
Over the weekend, The Wild Center unveiled the completed Stickwork sculpture by Patrick Dougherty as its newest outdoor exhibit. After a three-week process, the final structure is now open to the public, with guests invited to immerse themselves in the art, walking around and through the elaborate sculpture
Since the beginning of August, internationally acclaimed stick sculpture artist Patrick Dougherty has been working on The Wild Center’s campus with a crew of volunteers to create the masterpiece. Using thousands of locally sourced saplings, the team intricately wove the sticks together to form the larger-than-life sculpture, inspired by The Wild Center itself. The twisted creation is located near The Wild Center’s Wild Walk, where it will remain for several years until it naturally deteriorates on its own.
In line with The Wild Center’s sustainability practices, all saplings were harvested locally, on private land near the roadside. The pre-commercial harvesting was part of a thinning meant to maintain the roads and allow selected trees to thrive by reducing competition. The saplings would have typically been cut for road maintenance and laid to decompose on the roadside. Truly engrained in what The Wild Center believes, Dougherty’s project was able to provide a natural and renewable reason for the saplings.
Materials and support for the project provided by local companies: Christmas Farm & Forestry, Charley Pond Preserve, Curran Renewable Energy, Deerland Property Services, Fisher Tree Care, Molpus Woodlands Group, and Seaway Timber Harvesting.
Once the local red and sugar maple sticks and branches were harvested, they were stripped and used within the structure. Inspired visitors are welcome to try their hand at creating a Stickwork sculpture by adding to the frame that has been built in the Pines Play Area. Natural materials will be available for visitors of all ages and abilities to help weave an almost six foot tall tunnel.
“With The Wild Center’s deep love and appreciation for nature, it was very important to us to find a sustainable source for the saplings. We are delighted to be able to extend the lifecycle of these sticks and branches and breathe new, artistic life into them,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Director of The Wild Center.
“It has been a pleasure having Patrick Dougherty on-site the past few weeks, and being able to watch this masterpiece unfold before our eyes. Guests were already excited to see a sculpture of this magnitude made from raw materials, and now they’re able to walk through it!” said Hillarie Logan-Dechene, Deputy Director of The Wild Center.
As the founder and architect of Stickwork sculptures, Dougherty has created over 300 of these unique works of art over the past 35 years. He enjoys the ability to combine his carpentry skills with his love of nature, seeking inspiration from each location where he builds a new structure.
“We make something that really fits the space and has the appropriate scale. What I wanted to do was suggest a dependency on the trees already here at The Wild Center,” said Patrick Dougherty about the sculpture. “The piece is built in a grove of Scotch Pine, which is why we’re calling the piece Hopscotch. You’ll notice the structure woven into the trees in a number of spots.”
Seeing the Stickwork sculpture is included with regular admission. More information about sourcing of the saplings, Dougherty’s process and a time-lapse video of the sculpture being built are available on The Wild Center’s website at wildcenter.org/stickwork.
The Wild Center is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm with required timed reservations. For more information on visiting The Wild Center, visit: www.wildcenter.org/visit.