Artist Patrick Dougherty to Create Sculpture on U.Va. Arts Grounds, Accompanied by Exhibition at The Fralin Museum

UPDATED, Oct. 6, 2013, with new site and time for Dougherty's public talk.

Patrick Dougherty, world-renowned for his site-specific twig and sapling sculptures, is creating a larger-than-life work of art from locally gathered saplings for the University of Virginia and installing it in front of the Ruth Caplin Theatre on the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds.

Dougherty’s art form involves weaving supple tree saplings and branches into towering sculptures. Over the past 30 years, he has produced more than 200 installations worldwide.

Built with the assistance of University and community volunteers, the sculptural installation, “Stickwork,” will be in place on the U.Va. Arts Grounds for more than a year, giving visitors a chance to appreciate its seasonal changes as nature permits.

The sculpture celebrates the culmination of the first phase of the Arts Grounds construction and initiates the site as a home for works of art. The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia and a confluence of U.Va. entities, including the McIntire Department of Art in the College of Arts & Sciences and the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts, are bringing Dougherty to Grounds.

“We are thrilled to welcome internationally acclaimed artist Patrick Dougherty to the University of Virginia,” Jody Kielbasa, vice provost for the arts, said. “His work, which will directly involve students, faculty and the community in the artistic process, will immediately transform the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds into an even more exciting and dynamic destination for all to enjoy.”

Project manager Bill Bennett, project assistant Andrew Salmon and Dougherty will work with volunteers on all aspects of project construction. These include harvesting truckloads of saplings from a southeast Albemarle County site, stripping their leaves and preparing them for weaving, communicating with the public about the work-in-progress, assisting with the weaving and documenting the evolution of the project through blogs and social media.

The installation work began Sept. 30 and will conclude Oct. 18, the day before the Dougherty exhibit opens.

Volunteers for the Dougherty project are still needed; those interested must complete an application and attend an orientation session. For information or to request an application, contact volunteer coordinator Bridget Robinson at or go here.

An accompanying exhibition at The Fralin Museum of Art will run from Oct. 19 through Dec. 22, featuring photographs and models of Dougherty’s earlier projects, as well as preparatory drawings for the installation at the University.

Dougherty, a North Carolina native, began constructing sculptures in the early 1980s. Using locally harvested materials, he weaves and shapes his work into the specific nature of each location. He has received numerous awards for his art, including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, a Henry Moore Foundation Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

“His works acknowledge the biodegradable and ephemeral nature of the materials, and thus inhabit a space for only a limited time,” said Jennifer Farrell, curator of the Dougherty exhibition and curator of exhibitions and contemporary art at The Fralin Museum of Art.

Dougherty will give a free, public talk about his work Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Campbell Hall, room 153.

The museum will offer a Family Art JAM, “Stacking Sticks: Inspired by Patrick Dougherty,” for children and their families on Oct. 19 and 20. The sessions for children ages 5 to 7 will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. each day and the sessions for ages 8 to 12 will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. For information and to register, call 434-243-2050.

The Fralin Museum of Art, located at 155 Rugby Road, one block from the Rotunda, is open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

The Fralin Museum of Art’s programming is made possible by the support of The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.

The exhibition is made possible through the support of The Ray A. Graham Endowed Fund, the Vice Provost for the Arts, Albemarle Magazine and Ivy Publications LLC’s Charlottesville Welcome Book.

Media Contact

Robert Hull

Media Relations Associate Office of University Communications