“When I started Ashes and Snow in 1992, I set out to explore the relationship between man and animals from the inside out.”
Canadian-born artist Gregory Colbert began his career in Paris making documentary films about social issues. Filmmaking led to his work as a fine arts photographer, and the first public exhibition of his work was held in 1992 at the Musée de l’Elysée in Switzerland.
For the next ten years, Colbert showed no films and exhibited none of his art. Instead, he travelled to such places as India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Dominica, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tonga, Namibia, and Antarctica to film and photograph wondrous interactions between human beings and animals.
In 2002, he launched the Ashes and Snow exhibition in Italy at the Venice Arsenale, a 125,000-square-foot shipyard owned by the Italian navy.Built in 1104, the Arsenale was originally used to construct and launch boats to sea via the Venetian canals. Ashes and Snow was the largest solo exhibition ever mounted in Italy. The interior architecture of the Arsenale provided an ideal setting for the exhibition, and served as the model for the Nomadic Museum, which debuted with the opening of Ashes and Snow in New York City in March 2005. The museum then travelled to Santa Monica in January 2006, and Tokyo in March 2007.
More than 1.5 million people have attended the show since its debut in Venice, Italy. The project has been embraced by both the general public and a critical audience. Gregory Colbert received the 2005 Lucie Award for Curator of the Year for the Ashes and Snow installation at the Nomadic Museum in New York and the 2007 THEA Award for Outstanding Achievement in a Museum or Touring Attraction.
Colbert continues his expeditions and the development of Ashes and Snow.