A SCULPTURE is a three-dimensional artwork. It’s not flat, or two-dimensional, like a painting. A sculpture might be CARVED or BUILT and can be made from many kinds of materials. Sculptors might get their inspiration from people, places, and things. Some sculptures are lifelike while others are abstract.

Twist and Create

The artist Frank Stella used molten aluminum, or liquid metal, to create the twists and turns you see below. This sculpture hangs on a wall like a painting and may look two-dimensional when you first see it. Click on the image below from different angles. When you view it from the side, you can see it’s actually a three-dimensional sculpture.

Try It! Using a sheet of aluminum foil, experiment with all the ways that you can transform it from a two-dimensional sheet to a three-dimensional object. Try rolling it, twisting it, folding it, and more. Once you’ve explored all the ways you can change your foil, create your own sculpture inspired by the one above. Will you hang your sculpture on a wall or display it on top of a surface? You decide! Don’t have aluminum foil at home? Try using regular paper. Share your creations with #CMAatHome.

Musical Poses

Artists often use human figures as the inspiration, or muse, for their sculptures. Take a look at the  sculptures below. Gather your family and friends and try imitating the poses. Which pose was the easiest? Which pose was the hardest? What kind of music do you think these sculptures are listening to?

Try It! Create your own poses! Pick one person to be the “Sculptor.” Everyone else is a “Muse.” The Sculptor will pick a song, and while it is playing the Muses will dance. When the Sculptor pauses the song, all the Muses will pose and freeze like a statue. The Sculptor will pick the Muse with the best pose and then switch roles with the winner. Keep going until everyone has had a chance to be the Sculptor.

Extra Challenge

Sculptures can be created from different materials. The sculptures above are made from aluminum, marble, and bronze. Take a look at this sculpture made of glass. How is it different from the ones above? How do you think the artist made it?

Some artists carve into stone to create their sculptures. Others use different tools. Like the aluminum and bronze sculptures above, the artist Oiva Toikka used heat to fuse the glass pieces together. Let’s create a sculpture using the opposite: ice.


  • Ice cubes (You can make different sizes using Tupperware or a muffin tin.)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • A surface that can get wet (Use a baking sheet or go outside if the weather permits!)

Make your ice cubes by pouring water into a Tupperware container, muffin tin, or a traditional ice cube tray. If you have food coloring, you can add color to your ice cubes. Once they’re fully frozen (typically three to four hours), place your ice cubes on a safe surface like a baking sheet, driveway, or sidewalk. Arrange your ice cubes to create a sculpture. You may have noticed that ice looks a lot like glass. But hurry—unlike glass, ice melts! If you have room in your freezer, you can place your creation there and let the cold temperature meld your ice cubes together. Eventually your sculpture will melt, so don’t forget to take a picture and share it with #CMAatHome.

Çatal Hüyük (level VI B) Shrine VI B.1, 2001. Frank Stella (American, b. 1936). Aluminum pipe and cast aluminum; 246.3 x 322.4 x 231 cm. Gift of Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro and John L. Severance Fund, 2001.126. © Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Terpsichore Lyran (Muse of Lyric Poetry), 1816. Antonio Canova (Italian, 1757–1822). Marble; 177.5 x 78.1 x 61 cm. Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund, 1968.212

Dancer Looking at the Sole of Her Right Foot, 1896–97. Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). Bronze; 46.4 x 21.6 x 20.3 cm. Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection, 2028.1947

Nataraja, Shiva as the Lord of Dance, 1000s. South India, Tamil Nadu, Chola period (900–1200s). Bronze; 113 x 102 x 30 cm; base: 35 x 24 cm. Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund, 1930.331

Flycatcher Bird, c. 1975. Oiva Toikka (Finnish, 1931–2019). Glass; 25.7 cm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel H. Lamport, 1994.218