Mooie plaatjes met sneeuw door Sonja Hinrichsen

Credit: Sonjahinrichsen“It really came out of play,” she says. The inspiration was animal tracks left in otherwise unmarked and massive canvasses of snow laid out before her in high mountain meadows. She created her first designs in Colorado in 2009. Since then, she’s transformed winter landscapes in New Mexico, Lake Tahoe and in upstate New York.

A visual artist using many mediums, she admits to “liking places that are a little difficult.” The snow drawings are eerily reminiscent of crop circles that ‘UFO’s’ began leaving behind in British wheat fields during the 1980s.

Credit: xahlee.orgMore down to earth, German-born Hinrichsen admits a passionate interest in Native American mythologies, handed down through the generations.

Credit: sonjahinrichsenShe enjoys the ephemeral quality of her creations. While some might remain for days, most are quickly erased by the next big snow dump. As an artist she seeks to create seductive imagery that “reaches beyond the mere beauty of art, and stimulates reflection.”

Credit: sonjahinrichsenHinrichsen plans her next outing on Saturday, February 5th at Carpenter Ranch near Steam Boat Springs, Co. Volunteers are always welcome. No talent needed, the only requirement is a pair of snowshoes. The reward is hot coffee, camaraderie and that odd sense of satisfaction that comes from being part of something so big and wonderful, no matter how fleeting.

Round and round and round she snows …


Reader Comments (2)

Whenever “simple” and “brilliant” team up, it is inspiring! Sorry I can’t show up in snow shoes, and thanks for a great post.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Tinnon

I want to be her for a day.

February 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchristine gailey

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Sonja Hinrichsen is an artist who welcomes working outdoors--her tools are not pencil and paper, instead, they are her own feet and a layer of fresh snow. Her collaborators are the sun, shadows, and teams of hardy volunteers in snowshoes. Inspired to create her large-scale snow drawings by seeing animal tracks in fresh snow, the Bay Area-based artist’s first snow patterns were created in Colorado in 2009. She went on to walk her ephemeral “drawings” into the landscapes of California, New Mexico and Upstate New York. She says ideal landscapes are those with minimal obstacles, like deforested areas and frozen lakes. Over the winter seasons, the ongoing project has developed a social aspect as the execution of the drawings requires many feet--Hinrichsen enlists the local community in order to create the bigger drawings.

Many of the patterns can only be seen in their entirety from the air, last only for a few days at the most, and can require up to 60 volunteers to complete. Hinrichsen encourages volunteers with hot coffee and camaraderie, the only requirement being a pair of snowshoes. After the walking is done she tours the site with a pilot, shooting photographs of the snow drawings. Snow Drawings at Catamount Lake was created with over 60 volunteers from Steamboat Springs and the surrounding area, who walked the spiral patterns over a period of three days in February. Sonja says, “I was worried that my volunteers would get exhausted pretty quickly--but a lot of them stayed for hours and created amazing patterns that totally exceeded my expectations. A lot of people elaborated on the spiral concept and created patterns out of spirals. This was completely unexpected and I wasn't aware of this, as it wasn't visible from the ground. I was pretty stunned to see these patterns from the airplane the next morning.”

Sonja says that an ultimate location for a snow drawing, would be far north, “Alaska, Yukon, Iceland, Greenland, northern Finland--where there is little vegetation and lots and lots of snow. I would like to work there in the late winter/early spring, when days have already become longer but there is still enough snow. This works needs daylight and sun. It takes hours to create it and the contrast that the sun creates for the work to be visible. Those drawings virtually fade out and become invisible when it's foggy and overcast. They are visible only because the sun hits the individual footprints and creates shadows within them. This is what makes the lines appear.” In order to be seen, her drawings are dependent not only on the temperature, but also light and weather conditions. The transitory nature of the work is embraced by Hinrichsen as central to her art practice, “I am not interested in creating lasting artworks, as I believe that our world is over-saturated with man-made products.” She says, “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.” New drawings are planned for 2014 in Illinois, Colorado and at an art festival in the French Alps. Reminiscent of crop circles, earth art, and native american art, the temporary traces of the snow drawings underscore our relationship to the environment. Hinrichsen’s art is almost as fleeting as smoke signals, lasting only until the next spell of weather.

All images courtesy Sonja Hinrichsen, from works made from 2009--2013 in Colorado and New York.