Activity: Create a Sculpture from Natural Materials Inspired by Thaddeus Mosley

  • Grades: All Ages
  • Subjects: Art Activities

“The log and I decide together what it will become.”

—Thaddeus Mosley

Pittsburgh-based artist Thaddeus Mosley creates monumental sculptures that are made primarily from large, felled trees. He chooses a portion of the tree and reveals the qualities of the wood by carving textures on the entire surface. Sometimes Mosley includes other natural materials like stone, metal, or rope. This sculpture includes marble bases that anchor the tree limbs as they extend gracefully upwards towards the sky.

An abstract sculpture features three marble pillars with carved wooden branches extending from the tops of the pillars.
Thaddeus G. Mosley, Georgia Gate, 1975, Carnegie Museum of Art

Discuss with These Questions:

  • Look at the wooden portions of this sculpture, and as you do, think about what words come to mind.
  • Now look at the marble portions of the sculpture. What words come to mind?
  • It might surprise you that this sculpture is more than ten feet tall. Close your eyes and imagine what it might be like to walk around this sculpture. A sculpture that can be seen from all sides is called sculpture “in the round.” Do you think that there is a front and a back to this sculpture? Why or why not?

Get Creative: Make Your Own Natural Sculpture

Materials needed: sticks and other natural materials you like

Optional materials: string (if you would like to tie some items together), something like modeling clay or Play-Doh (to help your materials stand up)

  1. Gather some small sticks, small rocks, and any other natural materials on one of your walks outside. Think about why you are choosing these specific objects. Do you like the forms? The colors? How the textures feel in your hands? Make some field notes about your finds!
  2. Lay everything out on the floor or on a table. What similarities or differences between the items do you notice? Which ones are your favorite pieces? Why?
  3. Choose three or four items. Arrange them together in different ways. Stand them up. Lean them against each other. Walk around them and look at them from all directions.
  4. Consider Mosley’s quote again: “The log and I decide together what it will become.” What do you and your items decide that they will become?
  5. Give your sculpture a title.
  6. Optional: Take a picture of your final sculpture with a phone or camera and post it to social media and tag us!