Pitt Chat

Wood Work

Thaddeus Mosley, who has been creating art for more than 60 years, shares his secrets to living a creative life.
Photography by
Nate Guidry

A man stands with his right foot on a wooden sculptureThaddeus Mosley stands a sturdy 5 feet, 3 inches — sometimes half the size of the logs he wrestles, tames and transforms in his studio in the Chateau neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Even at 96, he handles them with ease, chiseling and carving colossal cherry and walnut slabs into towering, show-stopping sculptures.

Though already an accomplished artist, he gained far-reaching acclaim in 2018 when his work was featured in the 57th Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. He then signed with New York’s Karma Gallery and began placing pieces in Rockefeller Center, Baltimore Museum of Art and other renowned galleries. In October, he took his first trip to Paris, France, to visit some of his sculptures, which were being featured at the Musée National Eugène Delacroix.

A few weeks later in Long Island, New York, Mosley (A&S ’48) received the prestigious Isamu Noguchi Award, which celebrates innovation, global awareness and Eastern and Western cultural exchange.

Not bad for the retired U.S. postal employee, a self-taught sculptor and Pitt alum who majored in English and once dreamed of making a living as a writer.



What's the secret sauce for doing this work seven days a week at your age? 

At my age, I only have so many rides left on the merry-go-round, so I'm going to ride it as long as I can. As you get older, you can't stop doing it, because if you stop, it's hard to get back to it. Every day I'm thinking about coming into the studio. I'm always thinking about the next piece.

Where does your creativity come from?

I think everyone has some creativity in them. Every child likes to draw something, and they do it until someone tells them what they are doing isn't very good. It's just human nature to express yourself. My creativity comes from an interest in myself.

Does music inform your creative process? 

Listening to music certainly keeps my spirit high. Although I don't play an instrument, music has always been around me. I'm always playing it in the studio. Some of the pieces are named after famous musicians, like John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington.

How has creativity transformed your life?

Being a creative person and enjoying other creative endeavors, such as music, literature and things like that, makes my life more fulfilled.

How proud were you to have your work showcased in Paris?

It was great for my resume. Any time I have the opportunity to have my work showcased anywhere, it makes me proud because my work represents me as best as I can be represented.

What’s your advice to people new to the creativity game? 

You have to keep at it. When I first started, very few people were interested in what I was doing. But as I got to be known, more people became interested in my work. People who bought smaller pieces in the 1970s and ’80s are wishing they had purchased larger sculptures.


This story was published on April 4, 2023. It is part of Pitt Magazine's Spring 2023 issue.