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Paradise Valley artist pivots after Parkinson's

Showcases work at Scottsdale art expo

Posted 1/16/24

Paradise Valley sculptor William Daggett has shifted to a new medium amidst his Parkinson’s journey.

Since Daggett’s diagnosis in the spring of 2018, he has been continuing to carve …

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Paradise Valley artist pivots after Parkinson's

Showcases work at Scottsdale art expo


Paradise Valley sculptor William Daggett has shifted to a new medium amidst his Parkinson’s journey.

Since Daggett’s diagnosis in the spring of 2018, he has been continuing to carve his Juniper sculptures despite the shaking tremors in his hands. While he’s faced Parkinson’s—a neurodegenerative disease that runs in his family—with courage and determination, unwilling to let it slow him down, he has wondered how long he’ll be able to carve downed ancient Juniper, which he harvests himself in the desert with a chainsaw?

Daggett’s creative journey has been a long one. The first seed was planted decades ago, when he was growing up in Old Town Scottsdale in the 1950s. On his way to and from school, he’d walk by famous sculptor Dee Flagg’s home and eventually struck up a friendship with the artist.

“He welcomed me into his studio and showed me how he made his western wood carvings,” Daggett says. “I was fascinated and never forgot his kindness and generosity. He was a big inspiration.”

That same little boy—who has been producing some of his best work since the diagnosis—is now looking to the future, turning to a new art form so he can continue elevating his sculptures, in collaboration with nature.

“I am just now starting to lose some dexterity in my hands,” Daggett says, “so, while I still carve in Juniper, I am now casting some of my most-prized sculptures in gold and silver.”

“I go hunting for downed Juniper with an open spirit,” said Daggett about searching for new canvases in the high Sonoran desert. “It helps me find a personal connection with the wood, so when I discover the perfect snag, it feels as if it’s been looking for me, too, waiting patiently to be brought back to life.”

Daggett collaborates with Mother Nature to create nature-inspired fine art pieces through his deep connection to wood, one that goes beyond Juniper’s twisted branches, one rooted in his personal history.

“I’ve always been a creative soul,” says Daggett, even when he was a young boy. This artistic vein runs deep.

“When I start a new sculpture, I spend time with the piece of wood,” says Daggett. “I try to open up to its essence until I get a sense of what it’s saying, or how it wants to express itself.”

This love and connection to the wild comes through in each piece of his abstract art: birds, eagles, horses, flames, hands and other elements of nature organically surface during the manifestation process.

This evolution can be a moving target, notes Daggett. Occasionally, he says, the sculpture takes an unexpected turn: “Happy accidents, I like to call them, which often result in something magical.”

“What I find most rewarding,” he says, “is art that shows movement and emotion, which often draws strong feelings and tears out of patrons viewing my work.”

With the success of Daggett’s “Wood Whisperings” Juniper sculptures, and the recent Parkinsons diagnosis, he is expanding his art to include additional mediums: casting his most special pieces into his forthcoming “Gold Reflections” collection, which sets them in 18k solid gold. Daggett unveiled his new “Gold Reflections” collection at the 2024 Arizona Fine Art Expo (arizonafineartexpo.com), which continues through March 24 at 26540 N. Scottsdale Road.

“I’ve had many people cry in my studio at the Expo,” says Daggett. “The art and my story move folks and I find it deeply rewarding to be an example that serious health challenges don’t have to be a death sentence. We can adapt, grow and still evolve, even when it seems impossible.”

In that spirit, Daggett has donated several sculptures to the Parkinsons’s & Movement Disorder Alliance and will continue to be an advocate for research and empowerment.

“It’s all about giving people hope,” says Daggett. “My wish is that elevating these fallen pieces of Juniper, which grew in the most challenging of circumstances, continues to inspire art lovers for many years to come.”

For the last seven years, Daggett has been one of more than 100 juried artists showing at the Arizona Fine Art Expo.

“Over the years, my clients have enjoyed hearing the story of how I manifest my one-of-a-kind sculptures,” he says, “shepherding them from raw twisted wood to a new life form, which starts in my imagination.”

“It’s my hope that my sculptures—in whatever medium they embody—will continue to touch art collectors in the same way they’ve touched me, through an emotional connection to each piece born from nature. Now, transitioning them into gold sets them free on their final journey, elevating them to their highest level.”

For more information, visit Dagget's website at  www.woodwhisperings.com.