ECA News Briefs

Botanic Garden Bicentennial Features Sculpture Installation by Patrick Dougherty

“O Say Can You See” Garden sculpture creation complete

After three weeks of weaving work, the Patrick Dougherty sculpture at U.S. Botanic Garden is complete. The sculpture, woven from thousands of plant saplings and branches, stands 15-feet-tall and 25-feet-wide. Dougherty has titled the sculpture “O Say Can You See.”

“I’m really excited to be here, participating in the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Botanic Garden,” said Dougherty. “We’ve tried to make a sculpture that really excites people’s imagination. Visitors might think of fond memories in nature like playing with sticks as a child, a first kiss under a lilac bush or a nice walk in the woods, or maybe think of other items they’ve seen in nature like a bird nest they’ve just seen somewhere in the Garden.”

Visitors are invited to touch and walk through the sculpture, which will be on display through the end of December 2020.

View a time-lapse of the three-week creation process, photos of the complete sculpture, and more at www.USBG.gov/Dougherty

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Botanic Garden.


To kick off celebration of the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Botanic Garden’s (USBG) original 1820 charter, the Garden is collaborating with renowned stickwork artist Patrick Dougherty to create a custom sculpture to stand throughout the 2020 celebratory year.

Dougherty, who hails from North Carolina, is known around the world for his installations woven from plant materials, which celebrate nature through both materials and visually flowing lines. Over 30 years, he has built more than 250 stickwork sculptures, from Scotland to Japan to all over the United States. D.C.-area residents might remember his gallery-filling installation in the popular “Wonder” exhibit at the reopening of Renwick Gallery.

“We are excited to work with Patrick and his team to create a unique piece of art here at the Garden,” said Saharah Moon Chapotin, U.S. Botanic Garden executive director. “We hope visitors will explore the installation, think about the many ways we interact with plants throughout each day, and be inspired by both the beauty and function plants give to us.”

For this creation the USBG began by harvesting saplings of invasive plants from area locations – Norway maple from the American Horticultural Society’s River Farm and Siberian elm and hybrids of non-native cherry from the U.S. National Arboretum. Willow sustainably harvested from a farm completes the plants used to create the sculpture.

Volunteers and USBG employees are working more than 200 shifts with Dougherty and his team over three weeks to create the unique installation, which began October 7 and will be complete October 25. Once complete, visitors will be able to touch and explore this nature-inspired plant artwork installation.

Through the 2020 bicentennial year, the USBG will present a special exhibit celebrating plant exploration and the Garden’s history dating back to founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, as well as unique programs, workshops, lectures, festivals, tours, and more.

The U.S. Botanic Garden is open to the public, free of charge, every day of the year. The Conservatory is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and the outdoor gardens are open 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with extended hours until 7 p.m. from April 1 to September 15. The Garden is located at 100 Maryland Ave. SW, on the southwest side of the U.S. Capitol. Visitors are encouraged to use public transportation. More information is available at www.USBG.gov

About Patrick Dougherty
Born in Oklahoma in 1945, Dougherty was raised in North Carolina. Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Patrick began 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. His work quickly evolved from single pieces on conventional pedestals to monumental scale environmental works, which required saplings by the truckloads. Over the last thirty years, he has built over 250 of these works, and become internationally acclaimed. 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 Patrick and his work in 2009. www.stickwork.net

(via U.S. Botanic Garden. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Botanic Garden.)