A Canvas Beyond Measure: Artist Uses Snow as Inspiration

Snow Circles from Beauregard, Steamboat Aerials on Vimeo.

For several years, German-born artist Sonjha Hinrichsen has used the blank slate of untracked powder as a canvas for works of art best seen from the air due to their immense scope. In Colorado, New Mexico, and Northern California, Hinrichsen’s spirals and swirls etch the landscape for a moment of time, only to be erased by the next snowfall.

Quoted in Steamboat Magazine, Hinrichsen says, “Snow drawings last such a short time. It could be two to three hours, or two to three days. They define the landscape, and they are defined by it.”

Hinrichsen’s most recent installation appeared on Rabbit Ear’s pass (outside of Steamboat, Colorado) last weekend. With five snowshoeing volunteers, Hinrichsen executed her vision debossing a single unbroken path through two feet of snowpack. Many spectators view her work as a peaceful process of environmental communication. For adults, Hinrichsen’s patterns seem to evoke the Native American influences that have guided her work, while children imagine the work of Dr. Seuss at play.

After arriving in the Bay Area of California at the San Francisco Art Institute in  the late 1990’s, Hinrichsen found her work driven by a single thought: I am nomadic. Captivated by the beauty of the West, she set out to replicate the emotional trajectory of manifest destiny as a traveler across the plains and rivers. The riveting impression of her work is magnified by its fragility, and like each snowflake, no single creation of Hinrichsen’s can be duplicated again in an identical way, which may just be the point and part of the natural beauty of it all.