This New Yorker Can Turn Ice Into Anything

The city's hardest working sculpture talks about his livelihood and living in the city.

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"I started off at Sandals Royal Caribbean [resort] in Montego Bay -- I'm Jamaican born -- and I saw the chef making an ice carving one day and I said 'oh, that's real pretty. I think I could do that.' One day I took the tools out and tried to carve something, and it came out good," Mark Mckenzie says.

From there, he describes how he came to New York to open his own shop in Queens. Now he sculpts everything from baby carriages to Buddhas, delivering them to clients all over the city (check out his site for more images). In the short film below from the documentary series New Yorkers, he reflects on his work, conveying a passion that is contagious. The producers of the series express nothing but awe for Mckenzie's workload:

It was also interesting to see Mark's freezer, where he kept many of the sculptures that he is currently working on. He had a bunch of ice carved Buddhas sitting in there. Mark told us that he has a deal with a top Japanese restaurant in downtown Manhattan where he supplies a new ice Buddha every day of the year. Every day. He said he can't go on vacations because he has a deal to deliver a new Buddha 364 days a year. Quite the gig.

New Yorkers is an ongoing series from Moonshot Productions, a passion project completed alongside commercial work. The creators of the series, Erik Hartman, David Rowe, and Douglas Spitzer, discuss it in an interview with the Atlantic Video channel here. You can check out their profiles of a Shaolin monk, a locksmith, a graffiti artist, and more on the Atlantic Video channel.

Buddha by Mark Mckenzie

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

  • Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore
    Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.