Artist Sonja Hinrichsen is not interested in creating lasting artworks, particularly not in nature. Instead, her ‘environmental interventions’ are temporary installations; swiftly documented and living on in photographs.
“I feel like this planet is so scarred already through human activity and I don’t feel like I want to add more traces as an artist.”
The ongoing community arts project ‘Snow Drawings’ is Hinrichsen’s way of helping us regain a greater awareness of the natural world around us. Her walk patterns largely take the form of swirls and concentric circles, casting designs onto pristine snow surfaces. In a single unbroken line, they follow the contours of the landscape — whirling, meandering, accentuating — and create a visual texture across otherwise blank stretches. These sprawling drawings are short-lived, threatened by snowdrifts and melting.
Here is what she has been able to do with a herd of 50 volunteers donning snowshoes and unleashed onto the open landscape:
Inspiration to create the snow drawings stemmed from an artist residency in the Colorado Rockies in the winter of 2009. In the winters that have followed, she has created designs on sweeping ‘canvases’ – wide-open fields and frozen lakes – in northern New Mexico, NY, and Colorado.
You may want to compare and contrast this with fractals and crop circles and to consider what the impermanence of this work brings to your enjoyment of it.
I discovered the artist in a recent article about her snow studies in the Huffington Post. Below are some of Hinrichsen’s explorations at the other end of the scale: pen & ink drawings resembling microorganisms; and, embroidered words on the leaves of a fruit-bearing fig tree.