Aarian Marshall is a transportation reporter at WIRED and former CityLab contributor. She lives in San Francisco.
Snowshoe artist Simon Beck’s canvas is the French Alps.
Each of his expansive land art pieces takes the English artist Simon Beck about 10 hours. “It started as a bit of fun, then it became a way of exercising,” Beck says of the works he carefully pounds into snow with the power of his snowshoes. “[T]hen people started giving me gear, then offering money, so it gradually ‘snowballed.’”
Beck’s Oxford training as an engineer has prepared him well for a career in creating mathematically meticulous art out of snow. The artist generally draws his intended designs on paper beforehand, “if only to make sure they end up in the middle of the space and don't go off the edge of the good part of the site.”
“[Creating] straight lines and nice curves is a technique that has to be practiced,” he says.
Beck travels about 25 miles on his snowshoes to complete a piece, circling again and again around his art site.
Want to see one of Beck’s creations in the (very cold) flesh? Head to the French Alps, where he does most of his work. But there is good news for stateside readers: The artist sometimes labors in more western climes. The video below, by the photographer Leah Hennel, shows Beck at work at Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.
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