PATRICK DOUGHERTY, 2008. Jardin, Chateaubourg, France  Photo: Charles Crie

‘Step Right Up’

“Step Right Up” is a fitting name for Patrick Dougherty’s latest outdoor sculpture at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill. That’s essentially what he’s been inviting the public, fascinated with his larger-than-life stick sculptures, to do for the last 30 years.

Step right up. Walk around. Go inside. Look up and down. Explore.

“There’s intrigue in thinking about what it would be like to stand inside a teapot, and we made one big enough for Aladdin to come out of,” Dougherty said, chuckling softly as he took a break from construction on a late October afternoon. “There’s also the excitement of productivity that we assign to a stick, starting from childhood. It’s a drumstick, a piece of a wall, all of the things that you can imagine.”

A clay animal-shaped pouring vessel in the Ackland’s permanent collection caught Dougherty’s eye and served as the inspiration for five mammoth vessels constructed on the museum’s “front lawn” (the side facing Columbia Street). “Step Right Up” will be on display through August 2018; it’s the first major site-specific outdoor art installation by the museum in nearly 20 years.

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Video by Kristen Chavez and story by Kim Spurr; photos by Audrey Shore, Ackland Art Museum. Originally published Jan. 3, 2018.

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