Sculptor Patrick Dougherty to Transform Eliza Howell Park with “Stickwork” Installation + Artist Residency with Sidewalk Detroit

Sculptor Patrick Dougherty to Transform Eliza Howell Park with “Stickwork” Installation + Artist Residency with Sidewalk Detroit

From September 7th- 25th, Sidewalk Detroit and will be hosting internationally acclaimed artist, Patrick Dougherty as he creates one of his famed ‘Stickwork’ sculptures in Eliza Howell Park. This three-week artist residency will engage artists, volunteers, neighbors, and members of the public to work side by side with the internationally renowned artist as he creates a monumental environmental sculpture. 

The project begins with three days of harvesting overgrowth of saplings from participating parks in the City of Detroit. After three days of harvesting, the bundled saplings will be transported to Eliza Howell Park where Patrick and the Sidewalk Detroit team will begin construction and installation of the artwork. The project will be completed and celebrated with an artist talk and an official opening on Saturday, September 25th.

Thrown for a Loop (2017) Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, QB, Canada. Photo: Jacques Lebleu 

This outdoor project is a multi-year effort, part of long-term planning in the park. The long-term vision for Eliza Howell Park is to curate outdoor interventions specific to the Brightmoor community and to produce events that engage residents in artistic and recreational activities.  Speaking directly about the impact the artwork has on the immediate community, Sidewalk Detroit’s Executive Director, Ryan Myers-Johnson, had this to say:

“After years of focusing on infrastructure improvements in Eliza Howell we are so proud and excited to offer this opportunity to build a leave no trace, one of a kind sculpture in the park. We spent many months talking with people who love Eliza Howell Park about what type of artwork could capture the spirit of the park and honor the many residents and organizers who have dedicated countless hours, sweat, and tears to uplifting this special park. We choose Patrick Dougherty because his process involves understanding the landscape, culture, and vision of the community that he is working with, and his skill in working respectfully with natural materials is unparalleled. The sculpture will be built with the community and will serve as a signature piece in Eliza Howell Park.”

Anyone interested to join the project will experience the wonder and process of creating the monumental ‘Stick Work’ installation by working hand in hand with the artist. This is a great opportunity for local artists to work with an established nature-based artist, learning how to weave and build with tree saplings, and weaving techniques. 

Team members will assist Patrick in harvesting sapling branches, stripping them of leaves, and in the construction of the sculpture. It is recommended that volunteers wear closed-toe shoes and cool, breathable layers including long sleeves and pants to avoid being scratched or injured while harvesting and construction. Supplies, water, and snacks will be provided daily. Sidewalk Detroit anticipates over 100 people will assist in the construction of this project. To sign up and volunteer for a shift, you must be 16 years or older. 


Friday 9/10: 8am-12pm (Installation) 

Friday 9/10: 1pm-5pm (Installation) 

Tuesday 9/14: 8am-12pm (Installation) 

Friday 9/17: 8am-12pm (Installation) 

Friday 9/17: 1pm-5pm (Installation) 

Tuesday 9/21: 8am-12pm (Installation) 

Thursday 9/23: 8am-12pm (Installation) 

Thursday 9/23: 1pm-5pm (Installation)

This event is an official part of the Detroit Month of Design program taking place September 1-30. Programmed by Design Core, Detroit Month of Design is a citywide celebration of creativity that gathers designers and the greater community to celebrate Detroit’s role as a UNESCO City of Design.

Patrick Dougherty with Homegrown, his stick sculpture installation at the NC Botanical Gardens in Chapel Hill.

Over the last thirty-some years, Patrick Dougherty has built over 300 of these works to become an internationally acclaimed sculptor and visionary. His sculpture work has been seen worldwide—from Scotland to Japan to Brussels, and all over the United States. According to the artist, “My perspective on public art is that it needs to be site-specific – it needs to fit its site.” 

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.  

Sidewalk Detroit practices an inclusive approach to creative placemaking that combines the vision of residents, strategy, and innovative artistic ideation to create engaging spaces that improve life in communities across the city. Known for the Sidewalk Festival, they have been improving livability for Detroit residents through the promotion of socially relevant public art and culture programming since 2012.

Sidewalk Detroit was inspired by Eliza Howell Park because of its vast, beautiful landscape and direct connection to the Brightmoor neighborhood. With the help of the community members, and the skill of naturalists and landscape architects, park improvements such as educational signs, wayfinding, benches, rain gardens, native habitat restoration and increased accessibility have also been implemented.

This program is supported by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as a Knight Arts Challenge Detroit 2019 winning project and Detroit Month of Design, Kresge Foundation, Erb Foundation and the MCACA.

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