ON VIEW MAY 23, 2015 TO SPRING 2016

SALEM, MA -- This spring the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) commissions its first major outdoor  installation, a Stickworkby internationally acclaimed artist Patrick Dougherty. This temporary site-specific installation will be made entirely of saplings and constructed on the lawn of PEM’s historic Crowninshield-Bentley House, at the corner of Hawthorne Boulevard and Essex Street in downtown Salem. Dougherty will marshal a volunteer corps of some 50 people to construct his artwork on site during the first three weeks of May. Visitors are invited to follow the improvisational construction through to its completion on May 23. It will then  open for exploration -- from 8 am to 6 pm daily -- for approximately a year.

Stickwork: Patrick Dougherty is part of PEM’s Present Tense initiative, which seeks to expand the museum’s engagement with the most vibrant creators and critical minds of our time. Responsive, reflexive and relevant, the initiative brings together visual artists, performers and cross-disciplinary thought leaders to create experiences that reach far beyond the confines of the gallery walls.

Blurring the line between architecture, landscape design and sculpture, Dougherty’s installation -- situated one block from the museum’s main entrance -- will provide a dramatic counterpoint to the highly finished wood-frame Crowninshield-Bentley House that dates to the early 18th century. The saplings (which include varieties of linden, Norwegian maple and beech) will be responsibly harvested from areas on the North Shore with the guidance of a local arborist. Owing to the organic material and outdoor setting, Stickwork: Patrick Dougherty is a  temporary installation.  

“Patrick Dougherty’s creative process is both highly social and remarkably intuitive,” said Trevor Smith, PEM’s Curator of the Present Tense. “He improvises his Stickworks in response to the location and choreographs his teams of volunteers to help create his fantastic structures. Using the tapering forms of the saplings like a drawn line, Dougherty creates tension, direction and weight across the surface of the finished work.”


The Present Tense initiative is an extension of PEM’s contemporary art program. Under the guidance of curator Trevor Smith, the initiative celebrates the central role that creative expression plays in shaping our world today. The Present Tense initiative engages leading creative agents and thinkers to cultivate innovative experiences fueled by the intersection of cultures, disciplines and technologies. By encouraging innovation and fostering new forms of creativity, the Present Tense initiative seeks to push the boundaries of what a museum experience can be.

Upcoming Present Tense projects include:

JUNE 2015: Immersive, in-gallery musical experience with PEM’s Composer-in-Residence Matthew Aucoin leading the Encounters Ensemble

SEPTEMBER 2015: Dynamic, cross-disciplinary celebration to launch the national tour of Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen

JANUARY 2016:  Site-specific multimedia installation by Magdalena Campos-Pons and Neil Leonard


Over the last 30 years, Patrick Dougherty has created more than 250 Stickworks for museums, colleges, cities and parks around the world. Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Dougherty uses primitive building techniques to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. In 1982 his first work, Maple Body Wrap, was included in the 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 --- from Scotland to Japan to Brussels, and all over the United States. 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,


Support for the exhibition is provided by the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.


Patrick Dougherty, Sortie de Cave/Free at Last, 2008. Jardin des Arts, Chateaubourg, France. Photo by Charles Crie.


The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is one of the oldest and fastest growing museums in North America. At its heart is a mission to enrich and transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections, integrate past and present and underscore the vital importance of creative expression. Founded in 1799, the museum's collection is among the finest of its kind boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time -- including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, as well as Native American, Oceanic and African art. PEM's campus affords a varied and unique guest experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities, performance spaces and historic properties, including Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese House, a 200-year-old house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States. HOURS: Open Tuesday-Sunday10 am-5 pm, and the third Thursday of every month until9 pm. Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. ADMISSION: Adults $18; seniors $15; students $10. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $5. Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang. INFO: Call 866‐745‐1876 or visit