Melting Masterpieces: Impressive Works of Art Made from Snow and Ice

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These frozen art pieces are about as temporary as a temporary exhibition can get.

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Nele Azevedo

As a good part of the U.S. is getting blasted by some seriously frigid air this week, it only seems appropriate to take in some art pieces inspired by Mother Nature's wintery capabilities.

From snow canvases to ice soundscapes, read on for some stunning—albeit temporary—work inspired by temperatures under 32 degrees.

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Jim Denevan's mission: to create the world's largest work of art on the world's largest lake. And what happens when that lake happens to be in Siberia? A resulting nine square miles of art chiseled into pure ice, undertaken by Denevan's adventurous team in sub-zero temperatures and intense winds.

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The piece, which was commissioned by Anthropologie art magazine offshoot The Anthropologist, was based off the mathematical Fibonacci sequence. A documentary is being made about the project. Watch the trailer here.


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Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo's ice people: 1,000 small sitting figures made from ice. The Berlin installation, intended to draw attention to climate change in the Arctic, lasted until his last figure melted in the heat of the day.

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Image via Inhabitat

Sweden's famous Ice Hotel—yes, that would be a hotel made from ice—annually invites artists to submit proposals for designing their own hotel room. The 2013 winners were Eszter Augustine-Sziksz and Nikkila Carroll, whose project ILLUMINATED lit the walls with screen-printed discs of ice back-lit with LED lights, thus creating the illusion of stained-glass windows in the icy walls.

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Image via Inhabitat

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Vogue art director, set designer, and frequent Tim Walker collaborator Rhea Thierstein basically has the best job ever. For instance, this giant ship made of ice she designed for U.S. Vogue.

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Of the process, Thierstein writes on her website, "We stuck hundreds of fake icicles and other forms of fake ice onto the ice boat and I had the pleasure of setting off a snow candle which filled the room with giant snowflakes."


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What happens when you combine pristine white snow with giant pastel-colored discs? If you're Japanese artist Toshihiko Shibuya, you create Snow Palette, an artistic landscape that resembles a real-life Candyland. Constructed on Japanese island Hokkaido, Shibuya's installation highlights the sunshine's reflection on the vivid white snow, causing the discs to appear as a landscape of oversized gumdrops.


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Image via Dartmouth College

Keith Moskow and Robert Linn's Ice Chimes, a 20-foot-tall weather-responsive sculpture, which creates sounds from collected ice and snow. Currently on display on campus at Dartmouth College as part of the school's "Year of the Arts" program, the piece collects precipitation from a perforated canopy on top. Heated coils melt the collected moisture, which drips down through a series of holes onto suspended metal rods, creating icicles that sway in the wind, "clinking and chiming, until the icicles break off and fall into the metal collection bucket below, which amplifies the sound and causes reverberations."

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Artist Simon Beck has achieved substantial Internet fame for his snowy creations: insanely intricate patterns he creates by tromping in snowshoes through the freshly-fallen powder around his apartment in Les Arcs, a ski resort in France. One of Beck's patterns can measure up to 500 feet in diameter, taking upward of 10 hours to complete. With a day job as an orienteering mapmaker, Beck uses these technical skills to lay out the structure of each of his motifs, using compasses and measuring tape to lay out the precise dimensions of each design. He tracks his current work and the snowy conditions he's working with on his Facebook page.

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Want to experience the nostalgia of childhood snow days without the numb toes? Dominic Harris and Cinimod Studio's interactive art installation Ice Angel creates digital snow angels that the user controls; every time the user moves his or her arms, LED lights cause their "wings" to grow and move.

The piece, which is currently on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, has a built-in "memory," which, as Harris explains on his website, "capture[s] a hidden view of the participant and their angel wings, and this specific angel identity remains linked to that participant in any future encounters with the artwork."

Watch a video of Ice Angel in action here.


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Just Do It is the work of Luke Aleckson, a professor at Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN. Combining traditional print-making techniques with snow, the result is an incredible mix of textures in the snowy impressions.

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This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

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Leigh Patterson writes for Flavorpill.

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