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Dan Naegele, Architecture, (515) 294-7122,

Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,

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Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778,

Patrick Dougherty

Patrick Dougherty, 2008 Photo by James Fraher.

Acclaimed environmental sculptor Patrick Dougherty to speak at Iowa State Oct. 8

AMES, Iowa -- Internationally known environmental sculptor Patrick Dougherty will speak at Iowa State University Wednesday, Oct. 8, as part of the College of Design's 30th anniversary celebration. Dougherty's presentation, "Building Sculpture on Location: A Melding of Design and Community," will be at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall. The talk is free and open to the public.

The theme of the college's 30th anniversary celebration is "Design: Community," and Dougherty's lecture fits right in: His visit is at the invitation of the Ames Public Art Commission. Dougherty will be in Ames from Sept. 28 to Oct. 19, working with volunteers at Ada Hayden Park to create an organic, free-standing sculpture inspired by the local environment.

Dougherty combines his carpentry skill with his love for nature to build large-scale, on-site temporary sculptures out of tree saplings. His work has developed from individual pedestal-scale sculptures to immense environments that require truckloads of saplings. During the last two decades, Dougherty has built more than 150 works throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. In the past five years alone, his work has been exhibited at arboretums, botanic gardens, parks and sculpture gardens in 19 states and four European countries. He has created sculptures at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; the San Diego Wild Animal Park; and the Copenhagen Botanical Gardens, Denmark.

"Dougherty's work questions traditional disciplinary categories," said Dan Naegele, associate professor of architecture and a member of the Ames Public Art Commission. "It is simultaneously sculpture, architecture and landscape architecture."

"The work is conceived and erected by Dougherty on site and is specific to the particulars of the place in which he chooses to build," Naegele said.

For Ada Hayden Park, Dougherty selected a specific place for his sculpture on a visit to Ames in June 2007: A niche in a wooded area of the park filled with willow trees.

"Taking his cue from this indigenous vegetation, Dougherty's work will be composed of thousands of willow saplings, harvested at a remote site by the Ames community," Naegele said.

Using a large section of scaffolding, Dougherty and assistants from the community will weave the saplings into a fabric-like structure that is self supporting, anchored to the trees and has interior and exterior spaces.

"The resultant work is 'of' the wood, carefully sited to animate all that surrounds it, and intentionally left to wither, age and decay," Naegele said.

The aging process and the weathered forms that result underscore the organic composition of the sculpture's material.

"Erecting the sculpture is like a barn-raising. It entails, indeed it requires, the hands of many. All work to a common purpose, for a communal 'good,' " Naegele said. "Though the end product is clearly the creative work of a master sculptor, its 'making' is accomplished only through the efforts of many."

Dougherty holds degrees from the University of North Carolina and the University of Iowa. He resides in Chapel Hill, N.C. More information is at

Sponsors for the lecture are the College of Design, Department of Architecture and the Committee on Lectures, which is funded by the Government of the Student Body. More information about Dougherty's Ada Hayden Park project is at


Quick look

"Building Sculpture on Location: A Melding of Design and Community"

Patrick Dougherty, environmental sculptor

Wednesday, Oct. 8

7 p.m., MU Great Hall

Free and open to the public

Part of the College of Design's 30th anniversary celebration,"Design: Community,"


"Dougherty's work questions traditional disciplinary categories. It is simultaneously sculpture, architecture and landscape architecture."

Dan Naegele, associate professor of architecture

Dougherty artwork

Look Out Tree, 2008 (Redding, Calif.) Photo by Harvey Spector.

Dougherty artwork

Close ties, 2006 (Dingwall, Scotland) Photo by Fin Macrae.

Dougherty artwork

Just Around The Corner, 2003 (New Harmony, Ind.) Photo by Dole Dean.

Dougherty artwork

Sortie de Cave/Free At Last, 2008 (Chateaubourg, France) Photo by Charles Crie.