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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

September 2007 Issue

Weaving Wood, People, and Place
A landscape architect curates the installation of a Patrick Dougherty sculpture in Ithaca, New York.

By Suzanne VanDeMark

Weaving Wood, People and Place 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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