A Field Guide to Snow and Ice by Paula McCartney

Issue 29

A Field Guide to Snow and Ice is my interpretation of the idea of winter. After moving from San Francisco to Minneapolis I decided to brave the elements and explore the snowy landscape, however, at times without being out in the cold. The series includes images of snowfalls and wildflowers, frozen waterfalls and stalagmites, snowdrifts and piles of gypsum sand, as well as other icy forms in order to explore and reinterpret natural structures and the way they can reference multiple ideas on both micro and macro levels. Elements are abstracted from the vast landscape to illustrate the winter of my imagination. The ambiguity of scale and substance helps the subjects transcend their source. With less there becomes more.

I now see winter everywhere, in every environment, in every season and categorize it by pattern, shape, and line rather than merely by substance. I am fascinated by the way the frozen waterfall at Minnehaha Falls, in my neighborhood, dialogues with the dripped accumulation of calcite from the water that formed the stalagmites in Carlsbad Caverns over millions of years. Scattered calcium sulfite deposits on a lava bed in Hawaii speak to a snowfall at night – both yearn to be the cosmos. I found the Alps in the snowplowed piles of sand along the side of the road at White Sands National Monument, my own Arctic ice floes in the ice that broke free from the Duluth Harbor and floated out into Lake Superior.

I’m inspired by the studies of Karl Blossfeldt, James Nasmyth’s constructed lunar landscapes and August Strindberg's misinterpreted Celestographs-works by artists who collected and interpreted nature in their own peculiar ways.

Paula McCartney is a Minneapolis, MN based artist.
To view more of Paula's work, please visit her website