Our Afterschool kids have been starting work on their collaborative group projects, so there’s been a lot of discussion lately about site specific and installation work. The theme they will be working with is “structure”. Who doesn’t want to build a fort?!

An artist and college friend of mine, Jordan Taler, who currently works for City Arts, has agreed to collaborate with us in this section of the curriculum. It’s been so interesting so far, to see the kids’ reaction to more conceptual work through a very hands on approach and imaginative games and storytelling.



(courtesy Jordan Taler)

When we participated in the Ghouls and Gourds festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, we happened upon the work of Patrick Dougherty. Beyond being a perfect example for the kids’ project, with titles such as “Childhood Dreams”, his work was incredibly beautiful to see in person.

(courtesy stickwork.net)

From his bio:

“Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Patrick Dougherty began to learn about primitive techniques of building and to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. Beginning about 1980 with small works, fashioned in his backyard, he quickly moved from single pieces on conventional pedestals to monumental site-specific installations that require sticks by the truckload. To date he has built over two hundred such massive sculptures all over the world.

His home base is his handmade house of log in Chapel Hill, NC where he lives with his wife Linda and son Sam.” (stickwork.net)

(courtesy Brooklyn Botanic Gardens)

His work takes me back very easily to childhood fantasies, whether through goblins and mythical creatures, or playing house by making something for yourself.. Either way an escape from reality and a place to hide. It also reminds me, though, of everything today in the DIY, back-to-the-land mentality. We’re craving something of being able to live off of nature alone, and Dougherty has created completely beautiful structures that take our imaginations elsewhere, but could be taken to the level of livable.

The process is also of interest, using volunteers to help gather and clean branches, and aid in the weaving process. Pieces are generally left up until nature takes its course.

Another artist this reminds me of is Stephen Talasnik, who recently had an installation at Storm King Art Center. Talasnik was also the special guest lecturer last night at the monthly Textile Study Group of New York meeting. Unfortunately, we had a full house with 3 classes going on here, so missed it.. Did anyone get to go? Would love to hear about it.

Anyway, can’t wait to see what the kids do for their site specific piece!