Kashmiri artist to lead ‘Team India’ selected for US Snow Sculpture Championship-2018

India’s first ever snow sculpture team (Callisto) in United States while participating in the 27th annual Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships in 2017 (Photo: Kashmir Patriot

SRINAGAR: A snow sculpture team of India led by a young Kashmiri artist has been selected for the second consecutive year for Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championship 2018 to be held in United States.

The snow sculpture team ‘Callisto’ was selected from India for the first time in 2017 for the international snow sculpture championship which is being held annually in US. The team led by Kashmir Artist Zahoor Din Lone has been selected second time in a row for the international Championship. The Team Callisto becomes national group of art and culture by the hard efforts of Zahoor which led it to United State to represent as Team India.

The team consists of four artists Zahoor Din Lone, Sunil Kushwaha, Ravi Prakash, Mridul Kumar Upadhyay wins spirit award last year. However this year the team has replaced Mridul Kumar Upadhyay with another Kashmiri artist Irfan Lateef Mir for the championship.

The championship is being organized by the International Snow Sculpture Organizing Committee (ISSCOC) form last 28 years in Breckenridge, Colorado, US. This is the first ever snow sculpture team from India to represent team India in any International snow sculpture championship.

Zahoor Din Lone who hails from a small village of Pattan Singhpora in north Kashmir has pursued Masters in Fine arts from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi after completing his Bachelors in Fine arts from University of Kashmir.

Zahoor will be leading an Indian four member team to United States for this Snow Sculpture Championship. Before participating in US based championship in 2017, Zahoor has earlier participated and gained experience of snow sculpture from ‘Snow Fiesta-2014’, organized by the Eplanner event management and J&K Tourism in Gulmarg. “It was due to the ‘Snow Fiesta’ camp that I got an international opportunity and an opportunity to lead team India at international platform in United States,” he thanks to Eplanner.

“I submitted work samples of the sculpture camp in which i participated in 2014. That camp really helped me to grab this opportunity. And we were selected for US championship in 2017. This year we again applied and got selected. In valley we have enough talent but lack platform to explore”, he said.

Pertinently in 2017 the team Callisto won ‘Spirit award’ for their work titled ‘The Making’ at Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championship which was for the first time given during the history of championship to Team India for its dedication.

This year Team India sculpture title is Personification, the sculpture compromise many elements evolving the behavioral qualities of human and animal. It is constituted as a being both human and animal. Its iconology elements are book, conchshell and rays. These elements depict ceremonies, learning or knowledge and light or life. In the championship, the four artists of team India will carve 10x10x12 feet 20-tonne snow cuboid for 65 hours in 8 days, into a proposed snow sculpture based on the making of Indian civilizations, culture, unity and individual character.

However, due to callous attitude of state government last year, he said, “We didn’t receive any support or logistic help. We managed out tools, uniform and other miscellaneous expenditures ourselves.”

He said that to represent India at international stage, the Team had to pass through many hurdles to manage the expenses for the participation in the event. “Last  year, we submitted a proposal to Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India and many other ministries, government offices, art galleries, MNCs and philanthropist etc for financial support, but didn’t receive any help from them. We managed to take part in the competition on partial sponsorship of the event organizer, loans, personal savings, family and relatives support. This year Team again approached different departments and organizations for support in India and in our respective states, but are still waiting to their responses”, Zahoor said.

The ISSCOC receives hundreds of fantastic submissions across the world to the event among just sixteen teams are chosen. Interestingly this year for the first time a team from India has been chosen from among these fine submissions for the world class snow event at Breckenridge in US.

Irfan Lateef Mir of Lolab area of Kupwara district, another young sculpture artist from valley has been included in the team by Zahoor for this year’s championship. Mir is an Artist who explores different mediums and does most of his works in Metal wire.

Sunil Kushwaha, a young national sculpture artist has his sculptures 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, Art kept him engaged during unrest situations.  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 took art as the medium of social and economic development. 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.

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

However, in its 28th 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.

Snow artists from around the world will compete January 22-28, 2018 in Breckenridge at the International Snow Sculpture Championships. Sculptures, which remain on display through February start as 12-foot-tall, 20+ ton blocks of snow. Teams from all over the world will compete and using only hand tools, artists achieve finished pieces across five days (65 hours) of sculpting in this one of a kind event.

Meanwhile the Snow Sculpture Team India, ‘Callisto’ expresses gratitude to Dr Karan Singh, an Indian politician, philanthropist and poet, for his logistic support. They also expressed gratitude to Imtiyaz Mir, Faculty Member at Jamia Millia Islamia University New Delhi, PRO Jamia Millia Islamia New Delhi University Ahmad Azeem for their assistance and support.

The Team also thanks media houses Hindustan times Lucknow, Delhi Bhaskar, Kashmir Patriot, Kashmir Observer, Kashmir Age, Brighter Kashmir, World For Peace News, Sab Rang News, Navbharat Times, Okhla Times, Press Trust Of Kashmir for promoting their work and publicizing their stories.