I’ll always remember the first time I heard George Duffy talk about snow. We were out for a beer with colleagues—back when George was still a Ph.D. student in Vanderbilt’s Earth and Environmental Science department—and I asked him about his research. George lit up while talking about his work. Not only is he incredibly articulate on the subject, but he was able to explain complex scientific processes in vivid and imagistic terms that made his love for snow absolutely infectious. The English lit scholars in the group sat in rapt silence as we listened to George narrate the complex atmospheric processes that result in snow—something many of us take for granted each winter but perhaps shouldn’t in the face of an increasingly warming climate. When it came time to work on this episode, I knew that George had to be a part of it.
I felt similarly transported upon discovering Simon Beck’s breathtaking snow art, as featured in episode 8 of Art of Interference. While brainstorming for this episode, Tori suggested we all watch the “Snowfall” episode of HBO’s A World of Calm series for inspiration. And while I may have been initially hooked by Cillian Murphy’s hypnotic narration, I was further drawn in by the segment that featured Beck’s impressive drawings. I had the pleasure of connecting with Beck over Zoom back in November to discuss his process, hopes, and fears as the world’s pre-eminent snow artist. He was holed up in his apartment in the French alps, patiently waiting for the main season to begin and his beloved snow to arrive. It was clear after talking to Beck for a little over an hour just how committed he is to this work—which really amounts to something like a life practice—and to bringing public attention to the beauty of snow, mountains, and winter.
Beck’s artworks are stunning, to be sure, but they are so in part for the attention they bring to the marvel of snow itself. As George reminds us in this episode, “Snow can be a work of art that doesn’t even involve human hands.” I’ve never been more excited for winter in August. We hope you enjoy the episode. Please share your favorite snow memories in the comments below if you feel so inspired.