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Invasive Species Provide Construction Material For 'Stickwork' Sculpture In Pease Park

Michael Thad Carter
Artist Patrick Dougherty creates large-scale sculptures by bending and weaving sticks. This latest "Stickwork" piece is in Pease Park.

Over the past 30 years, artist Patrick Doughertyhas created more than 250 Stickwork sculptures across the globe. The large-scale works, which are made from natural elements, tend to resemble whimsical structures or huts; they're meant to be touched, entered and explored from all sides. His latest work has just been completed in Pease Park.

Credit Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT
The piece is made from invasive species.

Dougherty's work was commissioned by the Pease Park Conservancy, and the hands-on construction of the piece was handled by Dougherty, his son and dozens of local volunteers.

"There are about 100 people who signed up to work on this project," says Pease Park Conservancy CEO Kristen Brown. "They've all signed up for multiple shifts, so we have over 200 four-hour shifts."

In addition to all those person hours, the piece also needed a lot of building material, which was gathered locally. Despite what the name Stickwork and appearances would suggest, Dougherty's pieces aren't just made up of random sticks.

"Really, they're made of invasive species, such as ligustrum and depression willow," Brown says. "These are actually elements that volunteers ... go out and clear from the park, because they are invasive species and they take over the species that we want to grow." 

After weeks of construction, the piece is now complete, with an official opening scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 10. It'll remain up until nature takes its course or the structure becomes unsafe (that'll probably take a couple years), at which point it'll be deconstructed and mulched for use in the park.

Credit Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT
Pease Park is hosting an official opening for the art installation on Saturday, Feb. 10.

"I think that this is something that cuts across cultures, it cuts across socioeconomic status. You see these structures and it inspires something. It's different, it's whimsical, it's imaginative," Brown says. "You can run around it, inside it, touch it. I think that people who come to the park will be surprised by what they see and it'll spark conversation."

Pease Park will celebrate the opening of Stickwork from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10.

Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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