Snow Drawings

The rain in Maine won’t let up. It should be snowing. So this week we are willing it with our snow minded posts.

Sonja Hinrichsen’s snow paintings are fantastical wintery doodles, albeit with a short lifespan. Looking at them, you almost get the impression that small creatures made these tracks while scurrying about their daily lives. A life so happy and light that the resulting patterns read like fairytales. I’ll be on the lookout for some snow field drawings once we get our first powdery blanket. — angela

“Snow Drawings is an ongoing project where I “draw” large design systems in the environment by walking lines into fresh snow surfaces with snowshoes. Ideal “canvases” are deforested areas and frozen lakes. The finished pieces are ephemeral. While they take hours to create, their duration is entirely unpredictable. Sometimes they are coated over by new snow shortly after completion.

This project began out of play during an artist residency in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I started designing patterns in my mind, which I then transferred onto the snow. My designs have since become much more elaborate and refined, and I have continued this project in other landscapes across the USA.

During the past 2 winters this work has evolved into large social practice art events. Working with community has enabled me to create monumental pieces while at the same time engaging people in fun outdoor winter activity in stunning landscapes. I have so far conducted two major community art pieces; in 2012 at Rabbit Ears Pass in the Western Colorado Mountains and in early 2013 on frozen Lake Catamount; both of them in collaboration with the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, the Nature Conservancy of Colorado and the Steamboat Springs Public Library. We created large drawings that could only be seen from the air in their entirety – and only for a few days. New Snow Drawings community projects are planned for early 2014, in Colorado, in Illinois and in the French Alps, where I have been invited to participate in an arts festival.

The creative process itself constitutes a significant part of this work. It is important to me that participants experience the elements of nature while they help me transform their own familiar snow landscape into a piece of art. I hope that the aerial photographs that I take right after completion of each piece can demonstrate also to a larger audience how the landscape is transformed into a piece of art through a system of designs. This changes our perception of the landscape and accentuates the beauty and magic of the natural environment, and thus inspires awe and appreciation for art as well as for nature. I deem this important – especially as modern society becomes increasingly disconnected from the natural world.

As an environmentalist it is important to me that my interventions in nature are subtle and leave no lasting traces. I am not interested in creating lasting artworks, as I believe that our world is over-saturated with man-made products. I like to unfold my work into large immersive experiences, however I prefer that it live on in its documentation only, and – hopefully – in the memories of my audiences as well as those who participate in the creative effort.” >> Sonja Hinrichsen