Stickworks: The PEM’s First Outdoor Installation featuring Artist Patrick Dougherty

SALEM – The Peabody Essex Museum has commissioned its first major outdoor installation requiring 50 volunteers to assist internationally acclaimed artist Patrick Dougherty. The Stickwork installation will be temporary, made entirely of saplings, and site-specific with construction commencing on the lawn of PEM’s historic Crowninshield-Bentley House.

Dougherty will lead the improvisational construction beginning May 7 with completion expected by May 23. Visitors are invited to follow its evolution at the corner of Hawthorne Boulevard and Essex Street in downtown Salem. The installation will then open for daily exploration from 8AM to 6PM during the next year.

Learning Curve (2012) at the Center for Creativity and the Arts in Fresno, California. Photo Credit: Jonathan Mathis

Learning Curve (2012) at the Center for Creativity and the Arts in Fresno, California. Photo Credit: Jonathan Mathis

“Patrick Dougherty’s creative process is both highly social and remarkably intuitive,” said Trevor Smith, PEM’s Curator of the Present Tense. “He improvises his Stickworks in response to the location and choreographs his teams of volunteers to help create his fantastic structures.”

The installation is part of the museum’s Present Tense initiative which seeks to expand the their engagement with relevant, vibrant, and influential creators. It brings together visual artists, performers and cross-disciplinary thought leaders to create experiences beyond the galleries of the museum.

Dougherty’s installation will provide a dramatic contrast to the highly finished wood-frame Crowninshield-Bentley House that dates to the early 18th century. The saplings include varieties of linden, Norwegian maple and beech, and will be responsibly harvested from areas on the North Shore with the guidance of a local arborist.

“Using the tapering forms of the saplings like a drawn line,” Smith further explains, “Dougherty creates tension, direction and weight across the surface of the finished work.”

For more information, visit or and stay tuned to NoBo Magazine to check out the installation’s construction and grand opening. Visit the Peabody Essex Museum Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SoundCloud for announcements, updates, photos, podcasts, and more!


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All Photos Provided by the Peabody Essex Museum. All rights reserved. Do not copy, edit, or reproduce. 

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Just for Looks (2006) Willow saplings, 35’ high. Max Azria Melrose Avenue Boutique, Los Angeles, CA Photo Credit: David C. Calicchio

Just for Looks (2006)
Willow saplings, 35’ high.
Max Azria Melrose Avenue Boutique, Los Angeles, CA
Photo Credit: David C. Calicchio

Over the last 30 years, Patrick Dougherty has created more than 250 Stickworks for museums, colleges, cities and parks around the world. Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Dougherty uses primitive building techniques to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. In 1982 his first work, Maple Body Wrap, was included in the North Carolina Biennial Artists’ Exhibition, sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of Art. In the following year, he had his first one-person show titled, Waitin’ It Out in Maple at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His work quickly evolved from single pieces on conventional pedestals to monumental scale environmental works, which required saplings by the truckloads. His sculpture has been seen worldwide — from Scotland to Japan to Brussels, and all over the United States. He has received numerous awards, including the 2011 Factor Prize for Southern Art, North Carolina Artist Fellowship Award, Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, Henry Moore Foundation Fellowship, Japan-US Creative Arts Fellowship, and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Princeton Architectural Press published a major book about Dougherty and his work in 2009. For more information on Dougherty, visit


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The Present Tense initiative is an extension of PEM’s contemporary art program. Under the guidance of curator Trevor Smith, the initiative celebrates the central role that creative expression plays in shaping our world today. The Present Tense initiative engages leading creative agents and thinkers to cultivate innovative experiences fueled by the intersection of cultures, disciplines and technologies. By encouraging innovation and fostering new forms of creativity, the Present Tense initiative seeks to push the boundaries of what a museum experience can be. Upcoming Present Tense projects include:

JUNE 2015: Immersive, in-gallery musical experience with PEM’s Composer-in-Residence Matthew Aucoin leading the Encounters Ensemble

SEPTEMBER 2015: Dynamic, cross-disciplinary celebration to launch the national tour of Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen

JANUARY 2016:  Site-specific multimedia installation by Magdalena Campos-Pons and Neil Leonard


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PEM LogoThe Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is one of the oldest and fastest growing museums in North America. At its heart is a mission to transform people’s lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections and the vital importance of creative expression. Founded in 1799, the museum’s collection is among the finest of its kind boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time — including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, as well as Native American, Oceanic and African art.

PEM’s campus affords a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities, performance spaces and historic properties, including Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese House, a 200-year-old house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States.

For more information about the Peabody Essex Museum, visit Visit their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SoundCloud accounts for announcements, updates, photos and more.



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