Governors Island Gets Its First Ever Ice Sculpture Competition, and You Can Enter

A penguin sculpture by the Queens-based artist collective Okamoto Studio, which is collaborating with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council on the first ever Governors Island Ice Sculpture Show. (photo by and courtesy Okamoto Studio)

As New York braces for as much as a foot of snow, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) is determined to turn the winter of our discontent into a winter wonderland. This week, the nonprofit announced an open call for proposals for the first ever Governors Island Winter Ice Sculpture Show. New York City-based artists are encouraged to submit an idea for an ice sculpture, to be constructed and displayed in a two-hour public event in the new Winter Village on the island’s historic Colonels Row on Saturday, February 26.

An ice sculpture by artist Ai Weiwei in Stockholm, Sweden in 2014. (photo by Frankie Fouganthin via Wikimedia Commons)

Proposals are due February 9 and should be “based on the use of a clear ice block sized approximately 40 x 20 x 10 inches,” according to the application form, though the final work does not need to remain in block dimensions.

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Ten artists (or artist team) proposals will be selected by a jury of NYC cultural leaders. Each artist or group will receive an award of $2,000 to participate as well as tools and production materials, and will be matched with a professional ice carver from the Queens-based artist collective Okamoto Studio to complete the work on the day of the event. The firm, which handles the creation of professional ice sculptures for fashion and media events, parties, interactive installations, and live carving events, is also helping facilitate the competition.

Ice and snow festivals are a popular wintertime attraction, though the famous Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan has been cancelled for the last two years due to COVID-19 concerns. Michigan and other colder states that hate to see good snow go to waste are replete with wintry art festivals. New York’s unrelenting creatives have been known to venture out even on the chilliest days to make meticulous snow art — such as artists Melissa Vadakara and Marios Tzavellas’s tribute to Greek Classical sculpture in Astoria Park last year.

Okamoto Studio’s life-sized elephant ice sculpture in Union Square, produced for World Elephant Day in 2017. (photo by and courtesy Okamoto Studio)

The Ice Sculpture Show is the first event in Governors Island’s inaugural winter season of public programming. April may be the cruelest month, but February is kind of a drag, and we could all use a little ice-spiration. So shake off the icicles and start firing up your best ice sculpture ideas!

New York artists Melissa Vadakara and Marios Tzavellas’s snow sculptures in Astoria Park. (courtesy the artists)


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