Patrick Dougherty

'Making the Birds Proud'

Combining his carpentry skills and his love for nature, Patrick Dougherty uses vernacular building techniques and tree saplings to create immersive, otherworldly site-specific sculptures that twist, tower, bend, coil, and soar. Merging art, craftsmanship, and design, they attest to the wonder and awe-inspiring power of the natural world.

Signature image for Patrick Dougherty exhibition

Dougherty has honed his method of bending and weaving sticks across more than three decades. As an environmentally engaged artist, he uses only natural resources and renewable materials, yielding temporary works, as exposure to the elements wears down the installations over time. Despite — or perhaps due to — their ephemerality, Dougherty's whimsical creations are playful invitations that enliven our human desire to dream and imagine.

Dougherty will work on-site for three weeks in October with SCAD students and staff, using hundreds of sticks and saplings to create his site-specific installation, commissioned on the occasion of the SCAD Museum of Art's 10th anniversary.

About the artist

Portrait of artist Patrick Dougherty

Born in Oklahoma in 1945, Patrick Dougherty (b. 1945) was raised in North Carolina. He earned a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina in 1967 and an M.A. in hospital and health administration from the University of Iowa in 1969. Later, he returned to the University of North Carolina to study art history and sculpture. Early in his career, Dougherty began to learn vernacular techniques of building and to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. In 1982, his first work, Maple Body Wrap, was included in the North Carolina Biennial Artists' Exhibition, sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of Art. The following year, he presented his first solo exhibition, Waitin' It Out in Maple, at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, N.C. Dougherty's work quickly evolved from single pieces on conventional pedestals to monumental-scale environmental works, requiring saplings by the truckloads. Across 30-some years, he has built more than 300 sculptures, exhibiting worldwide to international acclaim. Dougherty is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2011 Factor Prize for Southern Art, North Carolina Artist Fellowship Award, Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, Henry Moore Foundation Fellowship, Japan-U.S. Creative Arts Fellowship, and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Princeton Architectural Press published a major catalogue on Dougherty and his work in 2009.

Install Views

Programs and events


Making the Birds Proud is organized by SCAD MOA curator DJ Hellerman.

Museum Admission

The exhibition is free for museum members and SCAD students, faculty, and staff with a valid SCAD Card. Open to the public with the cost of museum admission.

More on view