The BP World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska
Artists, as creative scavengers, have traditionally taken advantage of materials for their work that are readily available, relatively inexpensive and ripe with imaginative and technical challenges. Ice, the frozen form of water, meets all of these characteristics in areas of the world that sustain temperatures below freezing.
Since 1990, sculptors working with ice as their medium have flocked to Fairbanks, Alaska each March to compete in the BP World Ice Championships. The event has grown from a one-week competition involving 8 working teams of ice sculptors to a four-week project attracting over 70 teams from all over the world. 45,000 + visitors attended the 2013 exhibition and related programs. The goals of the BP World Ice Championships are to promote the use of ice as an artistic and educational endeavor, to advance cultural exchanges through art and to highlight the positive aspects of Alaska and of winter.
The World Ice Championship requires over 1500 tons of ice, which is ‘harvested’ from O’Grady pond, adjacent to the Ice Park site, with heavy equipment modified for the process and with the assistance of hundreds of volunteers. The extreme temperatures of Fairbanks enable the ice to grow many feet deep, making its unusually dense quality ideal for a world class competition. Ice harvested from O’Grady pond has been named, “Arctic Diamond” for its crystal-clear clarity.
Participating artists have between two and five and a half days to complete their sculptures, depending on whether they have entered the single block or multi (ten) block event. A sculpture is judged by a variety of criteria including creativity or originality of the design, the degree to which the piece expresses its stated theme, the technical difficulty and skill required to execute the piece, its finished appearance and how well the artist has used the available amount of ice. Check out some of the 2012 and 2013 ice sculptures below.