Patrick Dougherty was born in Oklahoma in 1945, but was raised and has spent much of his life 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, before later returning to the University of North Carolina to study art history and sculpture.

Talking about his work at Western Kentucky University in the fall of 2018, Dougherty spoke on his journey towards becoming an artist. He shared that "at some moment I decided I was going to quit school, go home, build a studio, and get to work. It’s one thing to know that you have a right to make something. It’s another thing to know what you’re going to make, and how you’re going to make it.”


“It wasn’t so unusual that a woodsman like myself would see the potential of the saplings along his driveway because they’re plentiful, they’re renewable, and it’s just like having a giant warehouse at your fingertips...and when I turned to sculpture, it seemed easy to co-opt the forces of nature and play that natural drawing style out onto the surfaces of these large works.” By using locally-harvested materials to construct his pieces, Dougherty began to strike a balance between the built environment and the natural world.

In Dougherty's early years as an artist, his work transitioned from small-scale creations to the large installations and sculptures that he is recognized for today. Dougherty has built upwards of 250 structures around the world.


For more information on Patrick Dougherty, his career, and a list of his installations, visit

Patrick Dougherty and his son, Sam, walk side by side at the harvest site in Allen County, Kentucky on October 1st, 2018. (Photo by Clinton Lewis, WKU)

The project isn’t just about the art. It’s about the community that
forms through the production and continued use of art.


Dougherty struck up that spirit from the inception of the project by being consistently accessible to volunteers, onlookers, and the media. His friendly personality, willingness to answer questions, and general excitement to share his artistic process provided a sense of comfort to all those who participated in this collaborative project.


Additionally, Dougherty's level of expertise, combined with his calm demeanor, encouraged volunteers to be productive while allowing them to enjoy a unique learning opportunity.

Patrick Dougherty explains the harvest process to a volunteer onsite in Allen County, Kentucky on October 1st, 2018. (Photo by Clinton Lewis, WKU)

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