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HOLMBERG: Richmond area tapping into the ancient art of snow sculpture

Posted at 9:46 AM, Feb 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-28 09:53:08-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Making art and structure out of snow and ice is fun and pretty easy, as we can see from the many images of snowmen, snowwomen and assorted other creatures and things shaped during the past two deluxe snowfalls.

They certainly capture moods and emotions, often the youthful joy of the freshly fallen show. They reflect our culture, what’s important to us. Sometimes they’re even sort of a reflection of ourselves.


As I watched and enjoyed seeing how many people are compelled to make art from snow, I wondered how long we, as humans, have been doing this.

It’s pretty much shrouded in the past. After all, ice and snow eventually melt.


But there’s some evidence showing man knew how to shape ice to his benefit by 600 BC. By the 1800s, we were pretty much doing it the way we do it now, based on old drawings and paintings.

But it doesn’t take much of a leap to suppose that man has been doing something similar for tens of thousands of years. After all, if an ice age artist would go through the trouble to shape a fairly exquisite horse out of mammoth ivory some 35,000 years ago, you can bet he could scoop up some snow and shape it for practice.


It is amazing how ingrained snow and ice art is in our culture. And you can bet if we are compelled to do it, our long ago ancestors were doing the exact same thing.

It would be interesting to see what, for example, the snow sculpture of 5,000 years ago looked like. Probably not too many Spongebobs, Elsas and Olafs, but likely sharks, horses and yes, the classic three-baller human.

My musings may be off base, so please add your thoughts.


But at least it gives us a chance to showcase and enjoy some local snow art. Thanks for sharing!