Nest Houses, 2003
Patrick Dougherty is an artist who creates his large installation pieces with the very unusual medium of living trees. By weaving growing saplings into huts, cocoons, giant water pitchers and the human form, Dougherty has created over 200 site-specific sculptures all around the world. In 2015, several of his Nest Houses were included in exhibitions at the newly-renovated Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.
His human-sized nest houses and other creations are made out of an assortment of different tree types including but not limited to pussy willow, birch, aspen, and maple. Wrapping the saplings around a branch substructure, he creates installations of swirling, naturally curved abstract tree art, usually reaching between 20 to 40 feet in the air.
This particular piece at the University of Southern Indiana was built with saplings harvested by both Dougherty and student volunteers to create a row of attached huts, complete with doors and windows that one could enter and poke around in. Unfortunately, because of the nature of his medium, his installations only last so long due to decomposition, and this one is no longer standing. To find out where to find Patrick Dougherty’s current installations, see his website, www.stickwork.net
*Nest Houses no longer exists in New Harmony, IN