These odd circles may look like messages from aliens or the humorous graffiti of penguins, but it’s actually the ephemeral snow and ice art of earth artist Jim Denevan, best known for his temporary beach masterpieces. The snow circles are somewhat of a departure from Denevan’s usual medium, but he’s no stranger to large-scale natural art. This nine-square-mile snow drawing currently holds the record as the world’s largest snow drawing; the record before that belonged to a sand drawing created in the Nevada desert by Denevan.
Jim Denevan’s art is all about impermanence. His large-scale artworks are meant to exist only for very short periods of time, after which they will be washed away by waves, wind and weather. This massive art was created on Siberia’s frozen Lake Baikal, the world’s largest lake.
Because of the constant threat of losing the entire piece to a sharp gust of wind, a team of helpers assisted in the creation of the gigantic masterpiece. Eight people in all got out onto the ice and used brooms to sweep the snow into simple, elegant circles. The work was chronicled on The Anthropologist, a site that features new artwork for Anthropologie.
The crew slept in a yurt on the ice, warming themselves by a fire in the lake bed that re-froze each morning in the brutal temperatures. The expedition was filmed by a documentary filmmaker and captured by a photographer; both of these documentation methods are necessary when creating art in a medium as temporary as ice.
The tundra warmed up, Lake Baikal thawed, and Jim Denevan’s lovely circles melted away forever. But the artist isn’t losing any sleep over his lost masterpiece; his goal is to create beautiful and inspiring pieces of art that only exist for a moment in time. His ephemeral art reminds us all to savor every day, to find beauty in even the most fleeting moment.