Saying Yes To Unexpected Opportunities

Too late: That’s what usually happens. Twice in recent years, sculptor Patrick Doughterty has done environmental installations built of sticks and willow within a couple of hours from where I live. And twice before, I found out too late to volunteer.


Not this time. On April 4, I caught the tail end of a story on the late local news that sent me to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point web site, looking for how to volunteer. And by the next day, I had signed up to work.

Patrick Dougherty installation at UW-Stevens Point 4-15-13 work in progress.

Today was my first day. I took a few pictures before the rest of the crew arrived. Then didn’t think about reaching for the camera again. No time. I’ll try to take more pictures tomorrow without the fencing panels. In the meantime, take my word that the sun burned off the fog and it was a lovely day to be working outside.

Willow cut from for the installation at UW-Stevens Point.

After my shift, I came home and cut some willow to take with me tomorrow to contribute to the cause.

Work in progress on the Patrick Dougherty installation at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point 4-15-13.

I’m grateful to have enough flexibility in my schedule to take advantage of an opportunity like this. Because in addition to getting to see the work in progress and learn something about how structures like this are constructed, there are other unexpected pleasures in this kind of work. Like weaving while talking with a young artist about her interest in the mummies and textiles of the Tarim Basin, and hearing her excitement about ancient plaids. And the young man who stopped to thank people working on the installation for adding beauty to the world.

It was a lovely day.

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Donna Kallner

fiber artist, teacher and explorer, inspired by ancient fiber techniques and all the ways contemporary fiber artists give old ideas a new spin