I stood in the snow, shivering. It was 6 degrees. Single digits.
I live in Houston, and my poor Southern self cannot handle temperatures in the single digits. But I was chasing a story that intrigued me, and that always makes me do crazy things. In this case, I was in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, for the National Snow Sculpting Competition.
Artists from all over the world come together to sculpt. They form teams of three and spend an entire week in the freezing cold, at least 8 hours a day, sawing, picking, slicing, and chopping at a giant block of icy snow. They follow a model they created back home and frequently refer to it as they chip away at the block.
I interviewed a few of them, and they all came to snow sculpting in different ways. One brought some students on a field trip, saw a free block of snow, and asked if she could make her own creation. One started as a sand sculptor and needed something to do during the winter. One was an engineer who needed a creative outlet. Many have studios back home where they sculpt clay.
Most are men, with just a handful of women. They are a small community, and most know one another. They are friendly and love to talk to passersby, answering questions and showing how they’ll use just about anything as a tool, just as long as it gets the job done. They are patient and focused. They are clearly enjoying themselves.