Patrick Dougherty Nature Sculpture Comes To Annapolis

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Maryland Hall in Annapolis is greatly anticipating the arrival of renowned environmental artist Patrick Dougherty to create a Stickwork sculptural installation on its campus this May. For over 35 years, the public has been mesmerized by Dougherty’s whimsical sculptural creations in botanical gardens, museum grounds, universities and other settings around the world. He has honed his craft at bending and weaving natural materials into over 300 monumental interactive sculptures for an unforgettable experience.

Starting May 3, the front lawn of Maryland Hall – adjacent to the Nature Sacred meditative labyrinth – will be transformed over a three-week period, serving as the setting for Dougherty’s Stickwork sculpture. His vision will be executed through a team of community volunteers helping to create what will be an installation evoking Maryland Hall’s historic surroundings and creative sensibility. The monumental scale sculpture will envelope visitors as they wander through the installation.

“I am looking forward to working at Maryland Hall,” Dougherty said. “The space we have chosen has a majestic oak and since I am a certified tree lover, I look forward to building there under the auspices of such a worthy companion. This site has great potential for creating a great sculpture."

Dougherty’s sculptures have been described as dynamic works that walk a fine line between architecture, landscape and art. Each installation is an act of discovery for the sculptor, where he challenges himself to create and build a whimsical and elegant structure made entirely of woven and wrapped branches within a limited timeframe.

The sculpture has been a community affair. Volunteers will include the members of The Green Give, a coalition of area environmental groups. And Maryland Hall’s outreach team has worked with its campus neighbors, Wiley H. Bates Middle School’s Arts Integration teachers, to engage their students in the project through monthly “ArtReach Challenges” inspired by Dougherty’s work. Beginning this week, the middle schoolers are invited to participate in Saturday arts workshops leading up to the installation.

The saplings for the sculpture are being harvested by volunteers from private farm properties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore including Poplar Grove, a 400-year-old former plantation. The property is still in the hands of a family whose ancestors were granted the site by Lord Baltimore in 1669. Its history has been well documented via the Poplar Grove Project begun in 2008 when Washington College professor and director of the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience Adam Goodheart and his students discovered a trove of papers there dating back to the 17th century.

Because the saplings are cut, not dug up, they will regrow. Environmental sensitivity is a main consideration and there is no long-term impact. The sculpture is expected to stand on the campus for one to three years.

From May 6-14 and May 17-21 from 8:00am to 5:00pm, the public is invited to visit Maryland Hall to observe as the sculpture takes form and progresses daily.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, email rkelbaugh@marylandhall.org or visit www.marylandhall.org/stickwork. Volunteers are needed to gather saplings on the Eastern Shore and during installation at Maryland Hall.

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