‘Common Ground’ From Collective Effort: Patrick Dougherty Sculpture Enchants

Patrick Dougherty Sculpture with artist

Sculptor Patrick Dougherty’s work has been displayed across the United States and in Europe and Asia.

Sculptor Patrick Dougherty creates monumental-scale environmental works using saplings by the truckload. His latest, Common Ground, was unveiled Feb. 21 on the Davidson College campus.

From gathering truckloads of sticks and saplings to working alongside sculptor Patrick Dougherty to weave the materials into fantastical structures that spark imagination, the creation of the newest campus sculpture exists because of a collective effort.

Through rain and snow, student, faculty and staff volunteers collected materials to create the new sculpture, then worked alongside the artist to weave the sticks and saplings into three towers resembling tribal huts.

With his work, Dougherty hopes to redirect attention to the value of sculpture and refocus attention on the experience of art, away from the transactions of buying and selling art.

Someone walking past the Patrick Dougherty Sculpture

Dougherty began making stickwork sculptures more than 35 years ago. His more than 250 pieces—swirling human figures and domiciles built into the landscape—have been displayed worldwide.

Patrick Dougherty Sculpture Volunteers Working

Sculptor Patrick Dougherty and students weave the base of one of the three hut-like structures that rise from the ground.

“It stirs your imagination, it embodies ideas, it reminds you of your childhood,” he said. “It reminds you of architecture that you’ve seen here and yon, it contrasts with the architecture here on campus.”

Common Ground occupies space between the Alvarez College Union and the E.H. Little Library, near the Vivien Beer sculpture Machined Nature: Anchored Candy no. 9. The sculpture is a gift of Steve ’68 and Marcy Sands.

Picking up Sticks for Patrick Dougherty Sculpture

Kenzie Bell ’20 gathers sticks from a college-owned property near campus.

Patrick Dougherty Stick Sculpture on Campus

Despite persistent heavy rain, the sculpture, Common Ground, was finished during a three-week period and unveiled at a Feb. 21 reception. 

World-renowned stickwork artist Patrick Dougherty on what makes a good sculpture and his latest work now on display at Davidson College.


  • February 27, 2020