June 6, 2011

Recently I had the great pleasure of helping with Patrick Dougherty’s new installation at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Diamond in the Rough. And yes, this is a belated post, since the piece was completed a couple of weeks ago. There was so much to enjoy about working on this project: learning how these things are put together, learning how to draw with sticks, enjoying the smell of the material and the feel of the spaces, meeting new people and working with other volunteers, helping Patrick’s assistant Andy on the highest dome (on my birthday!), watching Patrick work, and having a chance to get to know him. Patrick is a remarkable artist and a remarkable person. Unlike an artist working alone in a studio, Patrick depends on the help of volunteers and is very aware of the community aspect of his work. He has to be open to whatever happens at the hands of his helpers, to be willing to not be in total control. As any artist, he begins with an idea – in this case a grid of eleven diamonds – and reacts and adjusts as the piece develops. Throughout the process, Patrick was sincere and generous with viewers and helpers alike. Now that the working is done, he has left behind not only a truly delightful installation to be enjoyed by many people in many different ways but also a sort of lovely cloud of kindness and generosity that has settled upon the many people he encountered during his three week stay here – one that surely gathers and settles wherever he finishes a project. It is not only the site of his installation that is changed by his work, but the people too!

Diamond in the Rough will be at the gardens for a long while, but it will change over time. So visit soon and visit often. You won’t be disappointed!

Patrick Doherty

Almost finished

Andy on the roof

Looking through

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