Sonja Hinrichsen examines urban and natural environments through exploration and research. She is interested in the intersection between place and human perception thereof, throughout history. Her work manifests in immersive video installations and interventions in nature. As an artist she feels the responsibility to address subject matters society tends to neglect, including adverse impacts to the natural environment. While she wants to provoke thought and engage her audience intellectually, she is not interested in creating lasting art pieces, as she believes that our world is over-saturated with man-made products. She likes to unfold her work into large immersive experiences, however she prefers that her work lives on in its documentation only – and in her audiences’ memories.
Sonja graduated from the Academy of Art and Design in Stuttgart, Germany and received an MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2001. She is based in San Francisco, however within the past few years she has been travelling extensively to explore her topics of art and research.
Snow Drawings is an ongoing project where I “draw” huge designs in the environment by walking with snowshoes. Ideal “canvases” for these “drawings” are fields, meadows and pastures, as well as frozen lakes and rivers. Depending on size and density of the pieces the creation process can take anywhere between 20 minutes and several hours. I began this project in winter 2009 during an artist residency in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Out of play I designed patterns in my mind, which I then transferred onto the snow. My designs have since become more elaborate and refined, and often series of similar designs play together in large works. I have continued this project in other landscapes, such as in Northern New Mexico, in the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe, on a frozen lake in the Hudson Valley north of New York City, and on a frozen river in Northwestern Colorado. In January 2012 I worked with volunteers from Steamboat Springs and Hayden, Colorado to create pieces covering vast areas at Rabbit Ears Pass. During their short presence the pieces are embedded in the landscape. The scenery and the drawings play together and inform each other. It is my intention to perform this work in as many different environments as possible.
Due to its ephemeral nature the duration of each piece is entirely unpredictable. It can last as long as a few days or as short as a couple of hours, being covered by new snowfall or snowdrift immediately. This requires instant photo documentation. The photos are shot in portions to be merged together into large panoramas later. This allows me to achieve a wider angle and a higher resolution image. I have recently also taken aerial photos. The work ultimately manifests itself in large-scale prints, printed digitally on high-grade photographic paper.