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Utah Skier Uses Art To Promote Climate Awareness

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah – As Utah wrapped up another ski season, one Utah artist hoped to keep the snowpack on people’s minds long after winter passed.

Lexi Dowdall, a Ski Utah writer and director of Freeride for the International Free Skiers Association, spent the 2020-2021 ski season visiting each ski resort in Utah.

She gathered snow from each resort, then used that melted snow to paint watercolors of iconic views from those resorts.

It was a hobby borne out of the early-2020 pandemic lockdown.

“I was out of work during what’s usually the most intense part of my season. I didn’t know what to do with myself. We were all under lockdown, so I started painting. I did a 15-day drawing challenge that turned into a 100-day watercolor challenge,” said Dowdall. “Just finding this outlet has been so awesome during this pandemic. It helps keep me grounded. It helps keep me calm.”

As Dowdall put melted powder to paper, she realized she could spread a message.

“I was painting and realizing I was using melted water, and I started thinking about the climate and how it’s just so important for us to all understand the role that we play, and the actions that we can take to protect our winter and protect our snow,” she said.

Dowdall decided to sell each print made with the melted snow as part of a “Paint by Powder” series, donating 5% of her sales to the Protect our Winters organization.

In a 2018 article on the Climate.gov website, Salt Lake City-based hydrologist Brian Mcinerney said Utah’s climate could change so drastically in the next few decades that by 2100, all precipitation in the Wasatch could fall as rain.

“Oh man, that was such a terrifying thought,” Dowdall said. “There’s over 20,000 jobs that are produced as a direct result of the ski and snowboard industry here in Utah. That represents $1.7 billion of economic impact.”

Whether or not people buy the snowmelt prints at her Kapowder Ink site, Dowdall said she wanted people to live their lives with the climate in mind.

“Hopefully inspire others to take small steps, make a small change. We are all in this together,” she said. “It’s literally the biggest team effort that we have ahead of us, and if we hope to continue skiing and snowboarding, we need to act now. What we have here is so special and it’s worth protecting.”

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