Not Your Childhood Stick Figures–Art in Duke Gardens

I finally made it to Duke Gardens to see the unbelievably creative natural sculpture made by artist, Patrick Dougherty. At 18′ tall, it’s quite a sight to behold. There, in the middle of the South Lawn, stands these lifelike, yet not totally lifelike, stick people. Now, these are not the same stick figures that we learned to draw as soon as a parent placed a pencil in our chubby little toddler fingers. No! These are amazing works of art that blend whimsy and imagination. I was totally captivated. I thought I would run by and take a few quick photos. I couldn’t. I sat and watched as children and adults weaved in and out of the sculpture’s interior passages. My eyes traced the sticks as they wrapped around and around each other and through loops and twists and turns. Each figure came to life before me.  The time this must’ve taken Dougherty to bring from vision into reality–a true work of love! Each figure is unique in appearance and also in feeling. I spent time looking up at each and marveling at the talent, work, and time involved to create a masterpiece. All of this from what Nature provides to the artist! I’m thinking more about these natural works of art, or eco-art. Andy Goldsworthy comes to mind. So much beauty in the world. And what could be a better combination than art, whimsy, creativity, imagination, and nature. Oh…somehow I always end everything with nature. Hope you enjoy the sculpture as much as I did. I have a favorite figure: scroll down to see which one.


All photos taken November 2017 by me.

The Big Easy, Sarah P Duke Gardens, Duke University, Durham, NC
Created 02/17 by Patrick Dougherty
Size: approximately 40’ X 20’ and 18’ tall
Made from red maple and sweetgum from nearby Duke Forest

 More info from Patrick Dougherty’s entertaining, inspiring website: http://www.stickwork.net:
“Placed in the open meadow known as the South Lawn, this sculpture can be viewed from all 360 degrees.  I was interested in making a work with high visibility that spoke less of shelter and more of circus, celebration, and whimsy. The tops for the different towers were suggested by various shapes in the surrounding gardens.”

My favorite!

Oh, Mother Nature was showing off her red berries, too. The birds were happy, feasting, and singing on this beautiful autumn day.
All photos taken November, 2017 by me. Duke Gardens, Durham NC.


5 thoughts on “Not Your Childhood Stick Figures–Art in Duke Gardens

  1. I have a friend who has amused himself for almost twenty years now, hoofing off into mainly inaccessible places (to me anyway) and creating his natural masterpieces – mainly things that catch the eye and halt you in your tracks – Is that natural? Should that be there? Instagram and fb now allows him to sometimes track the responses to his offerings. These ‘stick figures’ are most remarkable! I too would have been captivated for hours – I’ve spent ages scrolling up and down and studying your photos! They appear to be growing from the ground, or perhaps are partially buried, like the heads of Easter Island……. Your favourite also caught my eye, though I like the one with tilted head too. To really know I would have to come and see them in person 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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