The Gibbes recently celebrated another great year of the Factor Prize for Southern Art by naming Patrick Dougherty the 2011 winner. A sculptor from North Carolina, Dougherty creates site-specific installations from twigs and branches woven together and held in place by tension. His work is fun and whimsical and awe-inspiring. And though Dougherty is a serious artist, his work is a breath of fresh air reminding us that art doesn’t always have to be serious. It can be really fun too.
Dougherty is a wonderful representative of the Factor Prize because his sculptures exemplify the high quality of work being created by southern artists. You don’t have to go to New York or LA to see great contemporary art—it is being created by southern artists throughout the region and beyond. This year’s stellar short list of finalists is certainly a testament to that fact.
With my job as Curator of Exhibitions, there is always something new and exciting on the horizon, but I have to admit that the Factor Prize is one of the most exciting. Calling the winning artist to deliver the news is hands down the best phone call I make all year. Each Factor Prize winner has been quite honored and humbled to be recognized for their life’s work. And receiving $10,000 is a pretty exciting bonus. After learning he had won the Factor Prize, Dougherty shared the following thoughts:
After 30 years of working day-in and day-out as a sculptor, I was delighted to receive the news that I had been selected for this year’s Factor Prize. I was working on a new sapling sculpture in Dayton, Ohio, when the call came and I nearly fell off the scaffolding in surprise. I was reminded of an earlier call in 1986 from the North Carolina Arts Council which provided the much needed funds to buy a used truck and trailer which subsequently hauled saplings from my neighbor’s farm in Efland, North Carolina, to the World Trade Center in New York City and many other locations up and down the east coast—this was the beginning of a fruitful career in the arts.
I have enjoyed traveling and building a new work in one community after another. This journey has allowed me access to a variety of organizations, an ever-changing public, and a portal to the world of ideas. Thank you for the Factor Prize and all the opportunities that it will bring.
And the Gibbes extends a huge thank you to benefactors Elizabeth and Mallory Factor, whose vision created the Factor Prize in 2007. Their ongoing support has allowed the Factor Prize to grow and bring recognition to the great diversity of art being created by southern artists today.
—Pam Wall, Curator of Exhibitions, Gibbes Museum of Art