Roger Wing, a sculptor from Powelton Village, has always known that he wanted to be around art in some capacity. It was his mother who first influenced him with her creative streak and encouragement to draw.
Wing began carving wood while he was in college in California, but it wasn’t until years later when he received his first invitation to attempt ice carving. Wing said that he was contacted by a friend of a friend who asked him to join him as his teammate at the 1997 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.
“I’d say my first experiences were wonderful, but as I gained more experience and more technical abilities the experience has just grown richer. So my excitement and enthusiasm for ice, I’d say, is constant. It’s just always on the increase,” Wing said.
While Wing said he thinks that he’s been fortunate to have been able to make art, there are many unique stresses that come along with ice carving.
“The speed at which it happens is stressful, so you’re always on a clock and the ice is such a mesmerizing and enchanting medium that you can get really drawn in and lose the distance and objectivity that you need to complete a large public work of art,” Wing said.
The issue of time also contributes to Wing’s belief that in terms of his own work, his favorite ice carving is always the next one that he’s doing. Because ice carving can be such a rapid process, he said that at the end of a competition there’s always something more that he wished he could have added or an aspect of the finished product that would have turned out better.
While his work has taken him all over the world, he said he looks forward to events like this weekend’s Manayunk on Ice Festival that are close to home, where he has a chance to connect with a crowd of local residents. In order to do this, he has taken his own ideas for ice carvings and combined them with a more popular approach to make art that anyone can relate to, especially children.
“You can make references and in-jokes that only other people who have your same background can pick up on and reference. In doing ice carving, suddenly Disney, princesses and pop culture images began to take on more validity, and doing something that is really recognized and appreciated by a crowd of children has its own rewards,” Wing said.