Sunday, April 1, 2012

Site Specific Art Installation

View of Willow Tree
As I was looking out the bay window of my daughter's room, long drooping branches of a willow tree reminded me of the art installation I saw in March 2011. I tried looking for photos in my collection to write this post and was unable to find them. I was bummed out but decided to write about it anyway. So with the help of Google's satellite camera, I captured the photos of this temporary installation, as shown below. The enclosed sculpture is on the property of Palo Alto Art Center, in Palo Alto, California.

An Environmental Sculptor, Peter Dougherty constructed this site-specific, temporary sculpture with pliable branches of similar willow tree.

Dougherty spent three weeks designing and constructing this whimsical, play-like  structure with the help of local volunteers and staff of the Palo Alto Art Center. He strategically chose the scale and location near the road under tall green trees so that they could be seen by drivers in their cars.

Similar to an urban designer, Dougherty considers the site, scale of the surroundings and natural lights to create these installations. He names them "stickworks" and  uses simple, primitive building techniques. The Flexible willow tree saplings are gathered and cut without destroying the trees; the branches are divided by their sizes, bent, and weaved to create the walls and door/window-like openings. During the process of installation, Dougherty interacts with people and kids, explains them about the concept of building with sticks. Kids and visitors explore the enchanted forms by going in and looking out of the openings, enjoying the environment in a complete different way. These structures  are dynamic and change colors over a period of time as the branches dry out. They usually stay at the location for one to two years, depending on the local climatic conditions; once decayed, they become an integral part of the earth.
This is the photo of another site-specific sculpture
 created by Peter at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
For more info. about the installation process, visit
For more info. about Patrick Dougherty’s work, visit

Dougherty has created approximately 200 installations across the USA and a few in other countries.  All of his various installations use his signature material, linear drawing like appearance, and lyrical aesthetic quality. Visiting one of his installations will bring either a kid's spirit back into your heart or admiration of the craft along with respect of the environment.

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