Born in Oklahoma in 1945, Dougherty 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.
Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Patrick began to learn more about primitive 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. In the following year, he had his first one-person show entitled, Waitin’ It Out in Maple at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
His work quickly evolved from single pieces on conventional pedestals to monumental scale environmental works, which required saplings by the truckloads. Over the last thirty-some years, he has built over 300 of these works, and become internationally acclaimed.
He has received numerous awards, including the 2011 Factor Prize for Southern Art, North Carolina Artist Fellowship Award, Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, Henry Moore Foundation Fellowship, Japan-US Creative Arts Fellowship, and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.
Princeton Architectural Press published a major book about Patrick and his work in 2009 called "Stickwork"
"Patrick is extraordinary. He has constructed mammoth stick sculptures all over the world. Patrick is more than an artist-- he's an architect and a naturalist. With his son Sam as his assistant, he travels the world creating site-specific installations that are one with nature and totally awe inspiring. I know him well and always wonder how he builds these marvelous structures using simple bending and weaving techniques. Look him up for sure and visit one of his many public art installations. I worked with the indoor installation at the NCMA for five years and it never ceased to amaze me."
"I have long admired the ambitious work of my fellow North Carolinian, Patrick Dougherty. Through his creations, art becomes part of the landscape and mingles with architecture in urban and rural settings as well as inhabiting interior and exterior human environments. These works inspire wonder and fascination because their placement forces the viewer to reassess the overall context, use and function of the spaces in which the works are sited. He also has a beautiful website with wonderful images, videos and interviews."