Sticks are imaginative objects

As children, we use them to build forts, play games, write in the sand—where ever our imagination would lead us. Artist Patrick Dougherty has tapped into that nostalgia to create a larger-than-life sculpture that is inspired by childhood and the natural world of the Adirondacks. Dougherty and a group of volunteers bent, weaved, snagged and flexed sustainably-sourced, local sapling to create a whimsical immersive art piece that is now open to Wild Center guests.


Materials and support for the project provided by local companies: Christmas Farm & Forestry, Charley Pond Preserve, Curran Renewable Energy, Deerland Property Services, Fisher Tree Care, Molpus Woodlands Group, and Seaway Timber Harvesting.

“The Wild Center is dedicated to having people walk out into the natural world and be a bit more aware of it. I’ve been here for the past 3 weeks and have observed hordes of children climbing rocks, touching trees, looking at their animals, and walking on their bridge and looking out.  Since children have a lot of correspondence with sticks, and even adults can call upon memories of playing with sticks as a child, it was really great to put a sculpture here that was guaranteed to excite.”

-Patrick Dougherty

About Patrick Dougherty

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. His sculpture has been seen worldwide—from Scotland to Japan to Brussels, and all over the United States.

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. This monograph, Stickwork, has received excellent reviews and is available at