“I think it’s enchanting. In a world that's really tough and hardcore, it’s easy for (us) to just want enchantment, something to heighten our emotions back to our childhood.”
As you step into a Patrick Dougherty structure, the world around you transforms. When you stand among the contorted, bent branches and stroll under the intricate arches and doorways, the noises of the modernized world around you suddenly vanish. The woven saplings allow the forest to fill your senses as the sun’s rays peek through the windows, casting rays of light inside. It’s evident this was designed by a craftsman with a deep love and respect for the serenity of nature.
The installation inspires connections to an array of architectural styles, cultures, and art forms for those who witness it. Jeanette Rayles likened the design to an oversized basket. Another volunteer, Kathy Davidson, felt that the style and form of the construction resembled buildings of multiple cultures and religions. For her, one of the strongest visual connections the dome-shaped structures evoked was the architecture of mosques. She observed, "I think it has kind of a spiritual look...peaceful."
As the crown jewel of "the valley," Highbrow is nestled directly in front of the beloved Kentucky Museum. Many students have admittedly rerouted their daily commutes just for the sake of passing by the whimsical structure. One student shared, “I used to walk up the hill to Van Meter to get to class and through Potter Hall, but now I’ve been walking past the Kentucky Museum, and that will be my path for the rest of my college career.” The structure has been described as warm and nurturing. Volunteer Leslie Weigel said, “What I like best about it is the way it's situated on the path, inviting people to walk through it."