Patrick Dougherty’s Stunning, Eco-Friendly Sculptures

Published May 21, 2013
Updated November 9, 2023

As earth-friendly art continues to garner acclaim in many creative communities, the whimsical wood work of Patrick Dougherty shines bright.

Patrick Dougherty is yet another contemporary sculptor whose eco-friendly artwork blurs the line between art and the environment. By manipulating saplings into spectacular shapes and images, he flawlessly builds green artwork that has garnered worldwide praise. Dougherty is yet another artist interested in earth-friendly artwork, and his success confirms that the green art trend is here to stay.

Patrick Dougherty was born in 1945 and grew up in North Carolina. As a child, he enjoyed building forts and shelters in the wooded areas around his house, both of which were habits upon which he would draw later in life.

Though Dougherty left the state to get his Master’s degree in 1969 at the University of Iowa, he eventually returned to study art history and sculpture at the University of North Carolina. Dougherty hoped to incorporate his love of nature into his art, so he began experimenting with saplings.

Patrick Dougherty Just Around The Corner

Source: Stick Work

By weaving them together and manipulating the shape of the saplings, Dougherty has been able to create extraordinary pieces of living art. In 1982, Dougherty’s first work, “Maple Body Wrap,” was included in an exhibition sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Since then, Dougherty has crafted more than 200 sculptures. His work is so popular that his journey as an artist has been featured in both a book, Stickwork, and a documentary titled Bending Sticks: the Sculpture of Patrick Dougherty.

Patrick Dougherty Standby

Source: Stick Work

What began as small-scale sculptures has now transformed into enormous pieces of art that take truckloads of saplings to create. He has been commissioned to create pieces for some of the world’s most prestigious destinations, including Korea, Australia, France, Italy, and the United States.

Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
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Cox, Savannah. "Patrick Dougherty’s Stunning, Eco-Friendly Sculptures.", May 21, 2013, Accessed June 16, 2024.