Over the course of 30 years, Patrick Dougherty, sometimes referred to as “Stick Wizard,” has designed and woven his enchanting nests, lairs, and networks of interlocking pods and gained international acclaim at sites all over the world, from Brussels and Scotland to Japan and across the United States. His early works were single pieces suited for pedestal display. However, his work quickly evolved into large-scale sculptures constructed of “saplings by the truckload.”

Call of the Wild. 2002. Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA  Photo: Duncan Price

In 2022, Dougherty noted he would be stepping back from these large-scale installations, which typically involved working with local volunteers new to stickwork, necessitating considerable patience and flexibility. For a period, Dougherty produced nine works a year, merging his carpentry, art, and design skills with his love for nature.

Spinoffs. 1990. DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA Photo: George Vasquez

His soaring works, using natural resources and renewable materials, twist and bend into organic shapes and eventually wear down over time. Perhaps the impermanence of the whimsical structures elicits an added soupçon of imagination and wonder.

Far Flung. 2018 Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, OH. Photo: Robert A Flischel Photography

In 2022, Dougherty was commissioned to install a temporary sculpture at Carpenter Park in Cary, North Carolina, as part of the town’s environmental outreach program. When Cary Magazine asked what he hoped residents would experience or feel when looking at the completed work, he responded, “I have always imagined that my job is to make compelling work which stirs the viewer up, excites the imagination, and causes passersby to come running. I hope that my work can touch peoples’ memories of childhood play or that first kiss under the lilac, give them a sense of wonder, and remind them of their profound connection to the world of nature.”
Throughout his career, Patrick Dougherty has received countless awards and fellowships in the U.S. and abroad. In 2009, Princeton Architectural Press published “Stickwork,” a significant book about Patrick and his work.