Imagine strolling through the campus of a New England college or a public garden and stumbling across a giant work of organic art, created from saplings interwoven into life-sized whimsical structures. This summer, visitors to Worcester county will have the rare opportunity to see the newest works of internationally acclaimed artist Patrick Dougherty at the College of the Holy Cross and Tower Hill Botanic Garden.

Dougherty bends, weaves, and flexes locally sourced saplings into architectural sculptures which are unique to the setting and dynamically relate to the landscape and built environment around them. Over the last 30 years, he has built more than 250 of these works.  His award winning sculptures have been seen worldwide — from Scotland to Japan to Brussels, and all over the United States.

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The first installation has been commissioned by Tower Hill in Boylston, Mass., after which Dougherty will serve as the 2016-2017 Arts Transcending Borders artist-in-residence at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

“Here at Tower Hill we strive to show our visitors the value of plants and the impact nature can have on our lives,” said Tower Hill interim CEO Suzanne Maas. “We’re thrilled to experience Patrick Dougherty’s works up close and to see the power of plants through his unique perspective.”


In each location, Dougherty will create a site-specific installation with the help of local volunteers.  Volunteers will receive instruction from Dougherty, and then have the opportunity to work alongside him, taking part in the construction.

“We are very excited to have Patrick Dougherty’s large-scale installation grace our campus,” says Lynn Kremer, director of Arts Transcending Borders at Holy Cross. “The work, which is certain to evoke a sense of home and community, is collaborative art-making at its finest and will require the assistance of many volunteers. Students, faculty, and staff from a wide range of departments will help in the creation. We invite members of the community to join in or observe.”

Stand By

The Tower Hill installation will be officially unveiled on August 25 and the Holy Cross installation on September 23. Each will be constructed with responsibly harvested saplings from the surrounding area: Tower Hill has partnered with Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to select saplings from around Boylston, and Holy Cross will work with the Greater Worcester Land Trust to select saplings from two sites in Worcester. In both cases, the sapling harvest benefits the project as well as the community, creating a use for saplings that would otherwise be cleared from the space and disposed of.

“The Greater Worcester Land Trust is very happy to be a partner in this community effort as the cut saplings will help create wildlife openings and early successional habitat on public conservation land,” said Colin M.J. Novick, Executive Director of the Greater Worcester Land Trust. “This isn’t just a great community building and inspiring event, it is also one that leaves the wilds and woods of Worcester in better shape.”

Featured Events

  • Tower Hill installation unveiling and reception with the artist – August 25, 6-9 p.m., Tower Hill Botanic Garden
  • Artist Talk: Patrick Dougherty, ATB Fall 2016 Artist-in-Residence – September 13, 5 p.m., Rehm Library, College of the Holy Cross,Co-sponsored by Arts Transcending Borders and the Tower Hill Botanic Garden
  • Holy Cross Installation Opening and Artist Reception –  September 23, 3 p.m., Lawn by Linden Lane, College of the Holy Cross

Volunteer opportunities will be available at both sites. To learn more, contact Suzanne Hauerstein of Tower Hill at (508)869-6111 x175, or visit the Holy Cross web page .

About Patrick Dougherty 

Over the last 30 years, Patrick Dougherty has created more than 270 “Stickworks” for museums, colleges, cities, and parks around the world. Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Dougherty uses rudimentary building techniques to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. His first work, titled “Maple Body Wrap,” was included in the 1982 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 and 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

About Tower Hill Botanic Garden 

Tower Hill Botanic Garden is celebrating its 30th year in Boylston and the 175th year of its parent organization, the Worcester County Horticulture Society. Each year, more than 120,000 people visit Tower Hill’s property, which includes 15 gardens, an historic apple orchard, a restaurant, gift shop, library, and art galleries, as well as year-round programs for all ages. Learn more at

About College of the Holy Cross 

The College of the Holy Cross (, located in Worcester, Mass., is among the nation’s leading liberal arts institutions. A highly selective, four-year, exclusively undergraduate college of 2,900 students, Holy Cross is renowned for offering a rigorous, personalized education in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition. Since its founding in 1843, Holy Cross has made a positive impact in society by graduating students who distinguish themselves as thoughtful leaders in business, professional and civic life.