A young Kashmiri artist has been selected among four participants of team India for the Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championship 2017 to be held in the United States.This is the first time that India will be represented by a team of four at this event.

The championship is being organized by the International Snow Sculpture Organizing Committee (ISSCOC) for the last 26 years in Breckenridge, Colorado. The four artists to represent team India are Zahoor Din Lone, Sunil Kushwaha, Ravi Prakash, and Mridul Kumar Upadhyay.

Zahoor Din Lone hails from Singpora village of Pattan town in district Baramulla. Zahoor, has completed his Masters in Fine Arts from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi after a Bachelors in Fine Arts from University of Kashmir.

Zahoor is the team leader of the first ever team to represent India at the Snow Sculpture Championship. This is not the first time, however, that Zahoor will be competing at a snow sculpture competition. He has earlier participated and gained experience at the ‘Snow Fiesta-2014’, organized by the Eplanner event management and J&K Tourism in Gulmarg.

Zahoor says that it was due to the ‘Snow Fiesta’ camp that he got this big opportunity which also sees him lead team India at an international platform in the United States. “I submitted work samples of the sculpture camp in which I participated in 2014. That camp really helped me to make the most of this opportunity. In the valley we have enough talent but lack of platforms”.

He adds that. “I am very thankful to Eplanner Event management who organized Snow Fiesta -2104 and made that happen for the first time in Asia besides providing a platform to explore my talent.” Zahoor said that unfortunately, due to lack of support from the government and other bodies, the organizers could hold the event every year.

It is worth mentioning that every year the ISSCOC receives hundreds of fantastic submissions for the event, amongst which just sixteen teams are chosen. Interestingly, this year for the first time, a team from India has been chosen from amongst these fine submissions for the world class snow event at Breckenridge in US.

Sunil Kushwaha, a young national sculpture artist whose sculptures are based on perfectly combined concepts of social issues, criticism and aestheticism. He belongs to a rural village of Singrauli, one of Madhya Pradesh’s Maoist-hit districts. He says that art kept him engaged during tough times. In his work, repetition and rhythm implies dynamic, complex narratives, at times playful or urgent. His fine sculptures are ‘Stages of Desire (Medium: black stone-glass)’ and ‘Voyage’ (Medium:stone-metal sculpture). Sunil earned a Master’s of Fine Arts (Sculpture) from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

Ravi Prakash, a young national sculpture artist, describes his artwork as an expressive representation of his social experience. Ravi belongs to a very backward region of Bihar and he looks at art as the medium of social and economic development. The rawness can be seen in his work. He can work in a variety of materials but prefers to work in metal wire; an unconventional, flexible and long lasting material. Weaving and molding the wire to give a physical form shows his hard work. His fine sculptures include ‘Milkman’, ‘Mother Nature in Pain’ and ‘Soulmate’ (the other half). He is a double Gold Medalist, both in Bachelors of Fine Arts (Sculpture) from Allahabad University and Masters of Fine Arts (Sculpture) from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

Mridul Kumar Upadhyay is a design engineer, commonwealth correspondent and photographer. He has been very passionate about empowering youth through art and has been advocating for young artists on national and international platforms. Mridul was conferred several international awards for his sustainable development work. He feels that art and snow-based tourism is a perfect way to channelize the local youth’s energy and give them the chance at employment in rural India and the Kashmir valley. Mridul hopes this team will create entirely a new culture of youth engagement in snow art.

These artists said that India gets snow every year but they don't find culture, recognition and appreciation for snow sculpting in India, unlike elsewhere in the world. They said they -- as a team -- hope to create an entirely new culture of youth engagement in snow art.

However, in its 27th year, the Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships will bring together 16 teams representing 12 countries from around the world to present intricate works of snow art. In the championship, four-person teams will carve 20-ton, 12-foot-tall blocks of snow without the use of power tools, internal support structures, or colorants – just the ingenuity of the sculptors and a medium that lends itself, if only temporarily, to the persuasion of hand tools.

(Cover photo: From Snow Fiesta 2014)