A piece of public art on CMU's campus, Inverted Dancer is a gravity-defying, 8 ½ feet tall bronze sculpture made from reworked wood.
The artist, Thaddeus Mosley, reworks wood into forms that recall organic structures that he calls “sculptural improvisations,” for their jazz influence. The artist often sculpts while listening to jazz, participating in a cross-disciplinary dialectic of spontaneity and intuition. Mosley collaborates with found knots and striations in the wood, respecting its history and employing it to add texture to his visual music. Inverted Dancer evidences this influence - grooves on the top of the sculpture are delineated by rhythmic facets, and the branching forms of various depth at its base create a visual syncopation. Given his practice’s centrality on material, the artist sought to preserve the striations and irregularities in the original medium in its translation to bronze; efforts were made to imbue the hard metal with the lively, earthly qualities associated with his naturally sourced wood.
Using only a mallet and chisel, Mosley collaborates with found knots and striations in the wood, respecting its history and employing it to add texture to his visual music.
Inverted Dancer’s slender, svelte lines recalls its title - a nose-like branch protrudes from the oblong base, next to a knot that recalls an eye. The top limbs extend upward from the narrow, waist-like joint between the torso and lower body. While the figure is propped on an arm that reaches the ground, the stability of this seemingly impossibly-balanced arrangement speaks both to the artist’s skill and to his esteem of sculptors such as Isamu Noguchi. Mosley’s practice embraces Noguchi’s sensibilities about the fragility of beauty, a notion that stemmed from Eastern considerations of balance and harmony. His gravity-defying, weightless sculpture proves a fitting conduit for the form of a dancer holding a transitional position.
Inverted Dancer showcases technical skill, examines shape and form in their precarious equilibrium, and considers a lengthy philosophical and artistic lineage.
Watch this time-lapse video of workers installing Thaddeus Mosley's "Inverted Dancer" in the Fifth Clyde House courtyard.