international drawing annual 9 exhibition-in-print
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Sonja Hinrichsen
Oakland, California

Interbrand Design Forum, Environmental Designer

detail image


Snow Drawings is an ongoing project where I "draw" large designs in the environment by walking lines into fresh snow surfaces with snowshoes. While they take hours to create, their duration is entirely unpredictable.  Sometimes they are coated over by new snow shortly after completion.

This project began during an artist residency in the Colorado Rocky Mountains in winter 2009. At first entirely out of play, I started designing patterns in my mind, which I then tried to "transfer" onto the snow by walking lines in untouched snow surfaces. As vast fields of snow became huge "canvases", I became the "pen". My designs have since become more elaborate, and I have continued this project in other landscapes across the USA.

During the past winters this work has evolved into large social practice art events. Working with community has enabled me to create monumental pieces while at the same time engaging people in fun outdoor winter activity in stunning landscapes. I have so far conducted three major community art pieces; in 2012 at Rabbit Ears Pass in the Western Colorado Mountains and in early 2013 on frozen Lake Catamount near Steamboat Springs; in collaboration with the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, the Nature Conservancy of Colorado, the Steamboat Springs Public Library and the Legacy Education Fund (Colorado). In early 2014 I covered a small lake in New York's Hudson Valley hosted by the Columbia Nature Conservancy, and I was invited to work in the French Alps, sponsored by the Serre Chevalier Skiing Organization. In each of these events I created monumental size drawings with community participation. They could only be seen from the air in their entirety – and only for a few days.

The creative process constitutes a significant part of this work. It is important to me that participants experience the elements of nature while they help me transform their own familiar snow landscape into a piece of art. I hope that the aerial photographs that I take right after completion of each piece can demonstrate also to a larger audience how the landscape is transformed into a piece of art. This changes our perception of the landscape and accentuates the beauty and magic of the natural environment, and thus inspires awe and appreciation for art as well as for nature. I deem this important – especially as modern society becomes increasingly alienated from the natural world. I believe that for a successful future of our race we will need to reconnect with our planet's nature, understand it better and take better stewardship thereof.

As an environmentalist it is important to me that my interventions in nature are subtle and leave no lasting traces. I'm not interested in creating lasting artworks, as I believe that our world is over-saturated with man-made products. 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.





born: 1967, Germany


San Francisco Art Institute, MFA, 2001
Academy of Fine Art, Stuttgart, Germany, Final Degree Extended Art Forms, 1998
Academy of Fine Art, Stuttgart, Germany, Final Degree, 1997

selected awards/honors

Return to Simplicity, 1st prize, Piedmont Art Center, California, 2013
Creative Capacity Fund, Quick Grant for Professional Development, San Francisco, California, 2012
Puffin Foundation Grant, 2011
Made in California, 2nd prize, Brea Art Gallery, Brea, California, 2008

selected publications

Register Star, article on Snow Drawings, February 2014
Environmental Art, inclusion in 2014 calendar, Amber Lotus Press, 2013
Soma Magazine, article on Snow Drawings. May 2012
Steamboat Magazine, Patterns on the Land, Winter 2011/2012

selected solo or two-person exhibits

RED Gallery, Snow Drawings – Rabbit Ears Pass, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, 2013
Teema Art Gallery, A Macro/Micro Universe, Vaasa City Library, Vaasa, Finland, 2012
Krowswork Gallery, The SF Bay – A Mediamorphology, Oakland, California, 2012
RedLine Gallery, Where the Waters Meet, Denver, Colorado, 2011

selected group shows

Piedmont Art Center, Return to Simplicity, Piedmont, California, 2013
San Francisco Arts Commission, Take Me Away, San Francisco, California, 2013
DePaul Art Museum, Climate of Uncertainty, Chicago, Illinois, 2013
Kala Art Institute, Kala Gallery, Keeping Time, Berkeley, California, 2012

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