Stickwork: Patrick Dougherty

Front Lawn, Spooner Hall

North Carolina–based artist Patrick Dougherty has gained an international reputation for his natural-wood structures and has created hundreds of monumental, site-specific sculptures around the world. His work is constructed from saplings gathered from local sources and shaped into massive, swirling forms as high as 40 feet.

During the last month of the exhibition Trees & Other Ramifications: Branches in Nature & Culture, Dougherty will bring his unique vision to campus. Hosted by the Spencer Museum in collaboration with The Commons, Dougherty will be an artist-in-residence during May and will work with KU faculty members and students to create a large-scale tree-sapling sculpture outside The Commons @ Spooner Hall. The project will be constructed predominantly of Silver Maple saplings that were harvested from a densely populated, sustainable site west of Lawrence.

This work represents yet another Spencer-driven collaborative opportunity for KU faculty and students. Matthew Burke, assistant professor of sculpture, is project site coordinator. KU film student Sandra Ristovska is filming a documentary about the project. Craig Freeman, curator in the Division of Botany for the Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center and associate scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey, was consulted extensively about site selection and the harvesting of saplings. Students representing diverse disciplines are assisting in the sapling harvest and construction of the sculpture.

For their generous support of this project, the Spencer thanks the O'Connor Company-Piller Foundation, Reed and Stacey Dillon, the Capitol Federal Foundation, the School of Architecture & Urban Design, First Management Inc., the School of Fine Arts Department of Art & Design and Department of Theatre & Film, the Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, the KU Facilities Operations Landscape and Engineering, the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

To learn more about Dougherty, please visit

Selected images