Erik Hoffner: Ice Visions

October 24, 2020 - March 6, 2021

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I’ve loved snowflakes since the day, as a child, I learned that no two are alike—millions and millions of them in a storm and no twins, every crystalline structure a unique expression of its own making. Erik Hoffner taught me a new lesson in the magic of nature: that thin sheets of freshly formed ice are without peer.

Hoffner is the Snowflake Bentley of our generation. His photographic creations capture patterns in the ice that forms overnight atop the holes bored by ice fishermen on the waterways of New England. Each rondel of new ice possesses its own internal, pictorial logic and materiality. Hoffner’s photographs open a viewing space to consider the dynamics of nature in its unlimited expressive and metaphoric potential.

— Mara Williams, Chief Curator

Ice Visions is an informal collaboration between myself, the ice fishing community, and elemental forces. When fishing holes refreeze overnight, they create fertile ground for nature’s wild artistic side, and these perfectly augered circles become worlds at once interstellar and cellular, dreamlike and tactile.

The images on display depict ice designs I’ve documented during 20 years of exploring New England lakes and ponds. In the morning light, with tiny bubbles from below fixed in place by several inches of new ice, these scenes come to life as eyes, galaxies, stars, cells, and more when rendered in black and white.

Due to milder than usual temperatures during the past winter, on many mornings I found barely a skin of new ice covering the prior day’s fishing holes. Bubbles pooled up at the surface before freezing, creating striking new kinds of formations I’d never seen before, ones that perhaps reveal the fingerprint of a warming climate.

— Erik Hoffner

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