Witnessing the first snowfall of the year in New York City was magnificent and humbling, especially for a kid from Texas. Time seemed to slow, the sounds of the city softened, and all cars, rooftops and sidewalks were covered in white. Sitting by the window in Brooklyn on Dec. 16, 2020, I watched one of the great metropolises of the world be consumed and completely transformed over a matter of hours. As the snow continued to fall that night, I knew I wanted to make a piece acknowledging the presence of nature in the highly urban environment of NYC.
The next morning, I searched for a place to make the drawing and came across Pier 5 of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Three adjacent turf soccer fields now made one pristine blank canvas, with a spectacular view of Manhattan in the distance. Better yet, the snow was completely untouched, due to fencing for construction on the surrounding pier. I couldn’t have found a more ideal place. After calling an unresponsive Park Services office, convincing construction workers on their lunch break to let me into the site, getting kicked out by four Park Enforcement Patrol officers and trudging back at night in the 17-degree weather, I finally found myself standing at the upper edge of Pier 5.
It was completely dark, with the exception of Manhattan’s skyline shining across the water. I usually make land drawings during the day, but I’ve noticed that darkness isn’t a problem when drawing at this scale — it actually allows me to see the image in my mind more clearly. My legs found traction in the thick snow, sending crisp signals to my brain at every step and gradually rendering an image of my path. I was orienting myself through touch rather than sight. As my imagination sharpened, I quickly slipped into the flow state that propelled my soaking wet boots for the next several hours.
In this state, my body is a pencil being guided by an artist in the sky. My ego vanishes, and the body becomes a line-making device, tuned into impulses in my surroundings, modifying itself to generate the figures the artist commands. Curve: lean in with a long stride. Straight: fix left toes in direction, drag right foot for line. Sharp turn: arms tucked into chest, quick lunge. Detail: backward step with heels. Circle: arms out, duck feet and pivot…
That night, from 11:34 p.m. to 2:29 a.m., I shuffled for nearly six miles of lines through the snow. After I finished, the whirlwind of creatures, stories, places, visions, sensations, coursing through my mind began their descent into hazy memory, and the snow began to melt.
More of Diego Miró-Rivera’s work can be found at diegomirorivera.com.