Students build snow castle reminiscient of first sculpture

by Sam Rauschenfels | 2/10/11 11:00pm

While most students trudged through the snow on the Green, a group of student volunteers worked vigorously over the past several weeks to complete an annual feat the snow sculpture. As a result of their efforts, layers of snow and ice hardened between sheets of plywood and became an 18-foot high castle the centerpiece of the 100th annual Winter Carnival.

"It's going to be a castle, with turrets in the corners, and the ramparts and the walls," senior snow sculpture chair Richie Clark '11 told The Dartmouth.

Clark and fellow snow sculpture chairs Riley Kane '12, Sarah Trahern '12 and Nick Valentini '13 selected the design with advice from former chair Benjy Meigs '10 Th'11. The castle design is meant to honor the centennial anniversary of Winter Carnival and to imitate the first Carnival snow sculpture built in 1925, 14 years after the first carnival which was also a castle, Clark said.

"We worked for a while trying to come up with a good idea that both had something to do with Dartmouth and celebrated Winter Carnival," Clark said.

While the sculpture chairs and dozens of volunteers filled the plywood mold with snow using a Thayer-designed conveyor belt system, Savannah Martin '13 used a butter knife to sculpt a mound of clay into a miniature castle in the comfort of her warm room.

"Now my room reeks of the clay," Martin said.

Martin said she did not know what to expect when she was approached in a fraternity and asked to help design the snow sculpture. "I just kind of fell into it," Martin said about the design process.

Martin used the dimensions the sculpture chairs had given her as a basis for her research.

See BUILDING, page 23BUILDING from page 20

She scoured the Internet for inspiration and came across photos of the Kilkenny Castle in Ireland.

"There were a couple other castles I looked at, but the Kilkenny had a big influence on me because I saw there was a step-wise kind of design in one part of it that I really liked," she said. "I'm looking to do a step-wise process because a big square block is not that pleasing."

Martin said she discussed the design with Clark, who gave her suggestions, a photograph of the first castle sculpture and "artistic license" to design as she pleased.

The original snow sculpture castle that inspired this year's sculpture was part of a larger Carnival theme influenced by Scandinavian festivals, The Dartmouth previously reported.

"The original was just a single wall with four turrets," Clark said.

Mark Emerson '25 constructed the 1925 castle on the football field, which was the location for the centerpiece Carnival snow sculptures until 1931.

"Four powerful electric searchlights illuminated the miniature snow palace, which, at the back of the field, formed the most striking scenic effect of the entire evening and created the most favorable impression upon the assembled guests, students, and townspeople," The Dartmouth reported in 1925.

Unlike the original castle, this year's sculpture does not feature a walk-through arch for safety reasons, Martin said.

To pay homage to the original, the sculpture features an arch in relief, Clark said. The sculptors also included designs unique to Dartmouth, such as the lone pine flag, in the structure, he said.

"[The snow sculpture] really gives the opportunity for the student body and the whole Dartmouth community to come together and work on something together and show what Dartmouth can create when we work together," Clark said. "The sculpture is the centerpiece of Winter Carnival."

Martin said she is excited to see her design featured prominently on the Green.

"I just hope it pleases people," she said.

The castle on the Green may not be the only snow sculpture on campus this year. The Winter Carnival sculpture contest will be making its comeback this year, according to a campus-wide e-mail sent on Feb. 4.

Beginning in 1927, fraternities and residence halls competed with each other in a similar contest, but the tradition had largely died out by the 1970s, The Dartmouth previously reported.

"This is the time to bring it back," senior Carnival co-chair Grace Dowd '11 said in an interview with The Dartmouth. "[This is] the time to brink back old traditions."

Dowd said she and the other chairs felt that reviving the sculpture contest fit well with the centennial anniversary of Carnival, she said.

Greek houses, residence halls, various campus organizations and groups of students comprise the 25 registered contestants, Dowd said.

The competition will commence at Carnival's opening ceremonies and contestants will have to Sunday afternoon to finish their entries, she said.

Sculptures will be judged by senior snow sculpture chair Richie Clark '11, the winner of last year's Dartmouth Idol Dan Van Deusen '11 and the winners of the Mr. and Mrs. Big Green competition Richard Stephenson' 12 and Kate Sullivan '13, Dowd said.

"Richie will make sure that everyone pays attention to the technique of the building," she said.

The contest's revival will hopefully become a permanent part of Carnival once again, Dowd said.

"I think that it's a very active way to get everyone involved," she said. "I would really like it to continue, and I think it will continue."