Block of ice

"Driven by a fascination with the hidden mythology of everyday life, Sue Wrbican and Mary Carothers forge poetic work out of the unexpected experience. Their projects together focus on travel, loosely plotted adventures infused by an indefatigable embrace of chance. The artists have learned, they say, 'to maneuver without maps' and follow instead less obvious 'signs' that lead to the unanticipated find, the curious encounter.

The strategy is crucial, if unforgiving, a courageous effort to investigate the very nature of the creative process. Born of their credo 'Surrender Your Comfort Zone!' the work bespeaks true collaboration, a merging of impulses, talents, and vision that is both wildly unpredictable and genuinely unconventional."
- Lisa Fishman

The automobile has long been a metaphor for freedom and power in American culture. This project, The Frozen Car, represents consumption, politics and desire; a time capsule dredging up the American Dream of ownership, the car being a totemic object that grants "special powers." The act of freezing references cryonics, a procedure which hypothetically preserves a diseased body until a cure is found. The Frozen Car points to the classic struggle of culture versus nature. It is a monument to a tragedy meant to remind us of our present choices.

As an investigation of climate change in North America and questioning society's dependence on mobility, artists Mary Carothers and Sue Wrbican directed this project to address themes of ice and time. During the winter of 2008, the artists froze a car into a solid block of ice in Michigan, the state of the birthplace of the automobile industry. The site of the project was on the grounds of Michigan Tech University, in Houghton, located on the western side of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

A 1978 Chevy Nova was chosen for the project due to its historical significance. During the Oil Crisis in the 70s as "The Big 3" Chrysler, Ford & Chevrolet, developed less oil-consumptive autos. Chevy supplanted its line of "gas-guzzling" cars with a "fuel efficient" line of "X" cars and the Citation replaced the Nova in 1980. During this time, Jimmy Carter created the US Department of Energy, in part to investigate alternatives to oil.

Black car parked in the garage