Since 2011, artist Sonja Hinrichsen has brought volunteers out onto the snow of Colorado to create art that can only be full seen from above. 2014's entry was an abstract interpretation of original flow of the Yampa River and its four main tributaries in Routt County, made on an artificial lake created by damming.
The project took four hours and fifty volunteers to complete, with teams walking on the river in snow shoes to create the patterns seen in the photos.
The piece was the culmination of a three-day seminar, as Hinrichsen explains:
This Snow Drawings piece concluded a 3-day seminar about water issues of the larger Colorado River system, the Western United States at large, and in particular the Yampa River in Northwestern Colorado. The seminar was held in Steamboat Springs in February 2014 and was initiated by the Legacy Education Fund; a non-profit organization that aims to promote and support public education in Routt County, CO. Speakers included experts on water as well as an education researcher about the importance of place-based education. .
With approximately 50 volunteers we created an artistic rendering of the water drainage system of the Routt County Yampa River segment on a frozen reservoir lake – created by a dam on that same river. Entering the lake from 4 different locations along the shoreline the snowshoe performers indicated the 4 main tributaries and would then congregate in the center of the lake to "flow" through the former river valley in commemoration of the course of the original river. Although flowing as one body of water each performer – like an individual drop of water – was asked to take into consideration how water moves, how it can be fast or slow, take a straight course or meander, bump up against rocks, whirl around obstacles, linger in puddles or race down rapids.