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Nicole Roales
Office of University Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, February 12, 2008

ArtsWeek events continue with political ice sculpting

Feb. 12, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- During this year's ArtsWeek, children and adults can enjoy ice carving demonstrations in People's Park at the corner of Dunn Street and Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington.

ArtsWeek, a collaboration between the City of Bloomington and Indiana University, offers exhibitions, performances, discussions and family-friendly events using many modes of artistic expression. No longer able to contain itself, ArtsWeek now spans 11 days, from Feb. 20 to March 1, with a few events following on March 2.

Ice Sculpture

Carvers from the Indiana Ice Studio will create "Politics on Ice" in People's Park.

Print-Quality Photo

The event, "Politics on Ice," will feature carvers from the Indiana Ice Studio creating sculptures related to the theme of politics. The demonstrations will vary from two to five hours in duration, taking place Feb. 21 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., Feb. 22 and 23 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., Feb. 28 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., Feb. 29 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and Mar. 1 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

"We will be concentrating on illustrating the U.S. system of government and politics using animals, nature and simple political themes," said Stephan Koch, owner of the Indiana Ice Studio. "We will carve around themes from the three branches of government to the first words of the U.S. Constitution to our voting system. Our job is to illustrate our political system with a fresh perspective through ice art."

The demonstrations will involve 600 to 1,500 pounds of ice each, which begin as 300 pound blocks.

"We will begin by assembling the basic shape of the final sculpture, an additive process, then begin carving, a subtractive process, then perhaps at the end add in some final details utilizing more of an additive process. Ice can be manipulated, cut apart and welded back together. We make the ice work for our design. At the end we will clean the sculpture utilizing a torch after which time the sculpture will stay in People's Park for the remainder of its lifespan," Koch said.

Children in particular enjoy watching the carving process, Koch said.

"They often try to catch the snow that flies from the ice tools and usually they figure out the subject of the sculpture before adults do," he said.

Depending on the weather, the sculptures can last anywhere from five hours to several weeks. Koch said the sculptures are built to withstand some poking and prodding.

"The sculptures will be touched by many regardless of what we have to say about it. Ice is such an appealing medium that often people are drawn to it and they understand by touch. Our job is to make the sculptures sturdy enough to withstand human interaction," he said.

Koch is a member of the National Ice Carving Association and is ranked sixth nationally among competitive ice carvers. Although he has created ice art for a wide variety of events and venues, he said "Politics on Ice" has been a unique challenge for him.

"I find the subject of 'Politics and the Arts' a challenging one as politics, like religion, is a subject that polarizes people and offends very easily," he said. "Our job is to bring levity to a subject in which all participants are deeply impassioned. We hope that our viewers will see our work and appreciate all the machinations in our political system, both the positives and the negatives."

For more information on ArtsWeek, visit