Alexander Patterson and Eleanor Davidson bundle leafless saplings. (Photo by J.T. Shanks)

Volunteers of various backgrounds and locations gathered on the front lawn of the Kentucky Museum in October 2018 to help create Highbrow, the sapling structure designed by Patrick Dougherty. In this collaborative process, volunteers harvested saplings from sites in Allen and Warren Counties, stripped their leaves on the front lawn of the Kentucky Museum, and tied the bare sticks into bundles. It wasn’t a quiet process, as the volunteers talked and laughed, brought together in the harmony of mutual effort and companionship.

Twisted and bent by the hands of the volunteers, Highbrow began to take shape by the determined effort all those involved in its creation. WKU students and others from the community and afar worked together to weave sticks into sculpture. Despite differences in backgrounds, ages, skills, and residences, all the volunteers were brought together by the same goal: the creation of Highbrow.

There were days of scorching heat that alternated with days of dark clouds and chilling rain. Despite some trying weather, the commitment of the volunteers served as the driving force behind this project and brought it to fruition. From the early harvesting stages to completion, it was the efforts of the volunteers that breathed life into this work of art. The finished piece was made complete with the friendships, laughter, and memories that were created along the way.

We extend our deepest gratitude to everyone who contributed their time and creativity to weave both this incredible structure as well as a newfound community inspired by collaboration. Highbrow is a testament to community growth through artistic process.

Aaron Kiser and Kate McElroy set the foundation posts. (Photo by J.T. Shanks)

"I thought, with the Kentucky Museum and Abraham Lincoln sitting on the bench out here, will it be cabinesque? It is obviously not, it’s so cool!"

 - Cynthia Riffe

​© 2018 by WKU Folk Studies Vernacular Architecture. Created with