Montgomery AL- During March 2009, North Carolina sculptor Patrick Dougherty will build a site-specific sculpture on the west lawn by the main entrance to the Museum. He will use saplings gathered locally to create a structure 10 to 20 feet tall and 30 to 50 feet wide. The sculpture will echo the shape of the brick porte cochere that flanks the museum’s entrance toward the east. The artist will use volunteers to gather and weave the truckloads of sticks needed to create his signature sculptures. The art is expected to last a year or two before nature takes its course, at which time the sculpture will be destroyed per agreement
with the artist.
Temporary, site-specific (that which is designed for and influenced by its surroundings) public art is not new to the art world. The trend has been growing since the 1970s when innovative artists began creating Earthworks and other sculptures wrought from natural materials—many of them colossal in scale and some in remote locations like deserts and forests. Concurrent with that trend toward monumental outdoor sculpture has been the development of contemporary public art in which an artist works with a community to make art reflective of that community. Parks, plazas, transit facilities (airports, subways, etc.), and schools are common locations for such public art. Dougherty’s creations are among the most popular of this genre of public art.
Dougherty is not new to this art form or his preferred medium—sticks. He has created stick-work sculptures around the country and abroad for about twenty years. His website, www.stickwork.net, provides links to recent projects. The museum’s sculpture will not look exactly like any of his previous sculptures because our site and our saplings and our volunteers are not exactly like the others. Moreover, the artist embraces the peculiarities of a place and its people to shape forms that are unique, even if the medium is as ubiquitous as the brush that grows along local roadways.
For more information or to volunteer to help construct the sculpture, please contact the museum’s project coordinator, Michael Panhorst, curator of art, at 240.4353 or email mpanhorst@MMFA.org.
Patrick Dougherty’s MMFA installation is supported by the James W. Wilson, Jr. and Wynona W. Wilson Family Foundation, and Wachovia Foundation, with special thanks to the children of the late Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Peacock.
The public will have the opportunity to meet the artist on Thursday, March 19. Be the first to view his completed work at the opening reception at 5:30 p.m. At 7 p.m., Dougherty will give a talk on his work and process. To understand the world of site-specific structure, join Museum Assistant Curator of Education and sculptor, Donna Pickens on March 5 at 6:30 p.m. for a lecture.
The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday Noon to 5p.m. Admission is free and donations are welcome. For more information, call the MMFA at 334.240.4333 or visit the website at www.mmfa.org.
The MMFA, a department of the City of Montgomery, is supported by funds from the City and County of Montgomery and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association. Programs are made possible, in part, by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.