Weaving Wood, People, and Place
A landscape architect curates the installation of a Patrick
Dougherty sculpture in Ithaca, New York.
By Suzanne VanDeMark
C/O Julie Magura
It was a crisp fall day at Sheldon Court on the edge of
Cornell University’s campus adjacent to the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts
in what is known locally as Collegetown. A variety of pedestrians meandered
through a triangular grove of honey locusts partnered with six swirling and
bending collages of woven saplings of different widths. People sipped hot cider
and ate fresh cinnamon rolls, as it was the opening day of sculptor Patrick
Dougherty’s six-piece installation, A
Half Dozen of the Other. After their initial observations, most people
lingered and took their time between destinations, not really commenting or
analyzing the space, just using it.
One of the onlookers, Amaechi Okigbo, humbly enjoyed the
opening’s success despite the fact that he was the primary reason for its
existence in this very public site, a site that overlaps the Cornell campus and
the city of Ithaca, New York. Okigbo’s experience as a landscape architect,
curator, professor, and artist paved the way for the implementation of
Dougherty’s sculpture in a college town that hadn’t seen a large-scale project
of this magnitude and character since Ithaca’s 1969 Earth Art exhibit.
Okigbo’s role as assigned curator was a natural one:
Landscape architects site elements on land all the time. Yet of Dougherty’s
more than 200 installations, he has worked with a landscape architect just one
other time: with Japanese landscape architect Tsutomu Kasai on a piece titled Intricate Loops, installed at the
Fushimi Kakitogawa Museum (see “Sticking with It,” Landscape Architecture, March 2001). What seems to be a natural
role for a landscape architect is unfortunately an underused one.
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