Waco Cultural Arts Fest (Waco, TX)

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      drge omed structure made from twisted branches

Island School Council for the Arts council member Karen Davies puts the finishing touches on one of the five domes of environmental sculptor Patrick Dougherty's outdoor installation, "Home Sweet Home," at Palmetto Bluff in greater Bluffton, S.C., on March 23, 2007. Photograph by Kristin Goode courtesy of The Hilton Head Island Packet 

A native of North Carolina, visual artist Patrick Dougherty creates large-scale outdoor sculptures from tree saplings salvaged from community locations such as municipal or county parkland; ditch, river, and lake banks; railroad track sidings; or closed industrial yards and other derelict property. He has created these eco-works for a number of cities in the U.S. and abroad, including County Offaly, Ireland; Redding, California; and Hilton Head Island, North Carolina, where the creation and installation of the work “Home Sweet Home” was supported by an FY 2006 NEA grant.

Waco Cultural Arts Fest in Waco, Texas, has been awarded an FY 2010 NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $25,000 to support the commission of a new work by Dougherty. Incorporated in 2004, the Waco Cultural Arts Fest works to increase access to the arts for each of the city’s nearly quarter of a million residents through projects including the Waco National Outdoor Sculpture Invitational. Each year the sculpture invitational brings a renowned artist, such as Dougherty, to Waco to create and install a new artwork, which remains on view in the city for at least 22 months.

Robbie Brian Barber, a sculpture professor at Baylor and the project’s director noted that Waco counts the arts as critical to the city’s growth.  “We have worked very hard over the past several years to expand the arts in Waco, and show how public sculpture can impact our community. This is critical to the cultural development of our region; exposure to new approaches and new ideas will help us grow. The commission of this public art work, and the community-wide involvement that will occur during its construction, will go far to achieve these goals. Ultimately, our hope is that more people will take notice of our city, and will think of Waco as a progressive force.”

The nearly yearlong project will kick off in Waco in January 2010 with site visits by the artist and local team members to the three sites along the Brazos River at which the sapling sculptures will be installed. Project activities also will include public lecture-demonstrations by the artist onsite and at Baylor University, a community blog, videotaping and broadcast of the project on the city’s public broadcast system, and lots of hands-on help from local students, community organizations, and two paid assistants.

This project was one of more than 1,200  funded in the first round of NEA grants for FY 2010. To read more please visit the newsroom .