From the Ground Up

A sculpture grows in the Gardens

Photographs by Tim Sayer

Patrick Dougherty’s most recent sculpture, What Goes Around, Comes Around, blossomed in three weeks from a dogwood flower. After laying a few petals on the ground, the internationally renowned artist, who grew up in Southern Pines, posed himself a question: “What could we do if these flower petals had walls and became something else?” What they became was the large stick sculpture that stands, for as long as Mother Nature will allow, behind the visitors’ center of the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens at Sandhills Community College.

Dougherty and a cadre of volunteers worked for three weeks in June creating the piece. “We drilled a series of holes around the perimeter of our footprint, set scaffolding and bent those limbs over into the shapes you find out there,” he says. Like drawing on a canvas, Dougherty uses additional sticks to give the outer wall of the sculpture its flowing surface. He and his crew spent the last few days “really, erasing things we didn’t like” and sprucing (no pun intended) up the installation so people could walk through it and interact with it.

The commission was a chance for Dougherty, who graduated from the old Southern Pines High School on May Street, to reconnect with the community, and friends, of his youth. “Everybody that I knew in a previous lifetime ended up coming back and talking to me,” says Dougherty. “And I look at all the new friends I made. My volunteers. Each person brought their own story, their own expectations. They know about me, so I get to understand about them.” And leave a door to the imagination behind.

— Jim Moriarty

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