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Cameron Park Continues Centinnial Celebration With Stickwork

Nov. 9, 2010

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Lucretia Darden is one of the volunteers. She's stripping leaves off willow branches. The branches serve as the canvas for the artist Patrick Dougherty and his creation in Cameron Park.

The sticks, willow, came from the Waco Wetlands. An invasive species, Waco Parks and recreation usually have a controlled burn of the "pest" species. However, this year the sticks and saplings were gathered, piled onto trucks, and hauled to the sculpture site--volunteers then took on the task stripping the branches and separating them according to size.

Patrick Dougherty was commissioned in Waco in celebration of the Cameron Park Centennial. His sculptures, known as Stickwork, are internationally renowned. Using branches and saplings, usually from locally available trees, Dougherty twists and weaves them into massive, whimsical structures. Dougherty says it's the stick's natural shape that gives his work it's feel.

Each stick has an inherent way of joining, a different tension or spring in its shaft. When a stick is placed in the matrix of other sticks, it springs back and holds in place. This is the key to building these massive forms.

It has taken nearly three weeks to complete the sculpture. However, Dougherty says the sculptures only last about two years before they become amorphous, inconsequential as he puts it. But Dougherty doesn't seem to mind his work has about the lifespan of a stick.

Dale Bryan is from Kansas. Her interest piqued with Dougherty's work at an exhibit at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

She then went on to write an article on Dougherty for a children's magazine. Now she's volunteering for Dougherty for her book research on the artist. For Bryan, Working with the sticks hearken back to a place in her childhood.

This is what Dougherty hopes for, that his work strikes a primal chord within the individual. Dougherty notices how people are naturally drawn to sticks.

The City of Waco and The Waco National Sculpture Invitational, part of the Waco Cultural Arts Fest, received a matching grant from National Endowment for the Arts that brought Patrick Dougherty and his work to Waco. You can see the completed Sculpture in Cameron Park as you drive down University Parks Drive through Pecan Bottoms. There are photos of the work in progress at kwbu.org. For KWBU news, I'm Jacqueline Deavenport.

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