The Stickman Cometh

Patrick Dougherty Sculpture in the Sandhills

World-renowned artist with Sandhills roots, Patrick Dougherty, has come home. His sculptures have been produced worldwide, and as this 75-year old artist closes his career, he has produced perhaps his final creation at Sandhills Community College. The Sandhills Horticultural Society is hosting Dougherty as he installs one of his unique sapling sculptures on the lawn behind the Bell Visitors Center on campus.

Dougherty was born in Oklahoma but grew up in Southern Pines, where he roamed the woods as a child. Specifically, he loved exploring a dogwood grove near St. Joseph of the Pines with his sister, and his sculpture today reflects that inspiration as the design resembles a dogwood flower when seen from above (see our video).

In the early 1980s his love of nature, his evolving knowledge of primitive building techniques, and his carpentry skills combined to create a unique artistic form—he began to build sculptures using tree saplings as his material.

In 1982, his first work, Maple Body Wrap, was included in the NC Biennial Artists’ Exhibition, sponsored by the NC Museum of Art. The next year, he held his first one-person show, Waitin’ It Out in Maple, at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem. These early single pieces were conventional, pedestal-mounted works, but his vision quickly evolved into monumental-scale environmental works. These required saplings by the truckload.

Patrick Dougherty Stickman

Over the last thirty years, he has completed over 300 temporary, sight-specific works. He has achieved international acclaim, and his art can be seen across the United States and worldwide—from Japan to Brussels. Locally, his work is featured at the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens in Fayetteville, the NC Museum of Life and Science in Durham, and the Sara P. Duke Gardens at Duke University.


He is the author of Stickwork, an artist’s monograph published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2009, and his work and career are featured in books published in France, Italy, and Germany. Over sixty periodical articles featuring his sculptures have appeared in American publications ranging from local newspapers to national-circulation magazines.

His work can be enjoyed on his website: