Travel is a hot topic at the Torpedo Factory, but raise the subject during a February freeze and you may find yourself chatting with sculptor Tatyana Schremko. Last month, Schremko traveled to Harbin, China, to serve as a judge at the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, where several previous years as a competitor gave her a true appreciation for the challenges of this most ephemeral medium.
“Preparing for competition is always different from creating with the flow of time and working without pressure,” Schremko explains, pointing out that the Harbin festival doesn’t offer the luxury of experimentation. Competitors have two full days, and then only three hours on the third day, to create magnificent ice-and-snow masterpieces, so forethought and planning are crucial.
“I plan for several weeks,” she says. “I make a model and practice the form to scale in other material. When you work in ice, pretty much each cut is predetermined. I need to take into consideration how it will look when light passes through it or is reflected off curves and edges. I work very fast and don’t worry about minutiae.”
As it turns out, Schremko was born in Harbin to Russian and Ukrainian parents, so every trip there is a sort of homecoming—as well as an opportunity for adventure. This year, she explored Hong Kong, hiked in the Yellow Mountains, and marveled at the dual nature of Shanghai: art centers, restaurants, and meandering alleys on one side of the river, the “energy-throbbing financial district” on the other.
“China is a land and a culture that presents not-insurmountable challenges—and enriching rewards,” she says, marveling at the ways a change of scenery can show us new connections between art and life. “Any travel is an endless journey.”