January 2012
Benjamin Weissman

The Cabin Drawings

A Collaborative Project

For the past several years, I’ve been skiing with a bunch of friends who like to end the day drawing collaborative pictures and listening to music. We all share a deep, fanatical devotion to snow, to skiing and boarding, and are perpetually overwhelmed by the beauty and immensity of the high-alpine experience. It is the closest thing to our church. We keep our voices down when on the holy mountain.

Shoveling massive amounts of snow, cooking large, ambitious meals, and early-morning silent-time for reading and writing are also part of our ski-cabin life.

We’re hyperconscious of the marks we make on the snow with our skis: long, looping arcs; deep, angular swerves; tight chicken scratches; or massive buttocks-craters. The obsession with drawing together stems not so much from a desire to record the day as from an urge to extend the day’s antics from snowfield to white paper. In the last four winters, we’ve made 793 drawings.

The ski posse is large, a rotating group of thirty-one artists and writers and kids (ages five to sixty-nine). Most of these drawings were made with Matt Greene, who I ski with more than anyone else. Paul McCarthy, Kiersten and Ephraim Puusemp, Christopher Wilde, and David Humphrey are also primary participants. But there are many other contributors: Carl Bronson; Harry Dodge; Cerus and Sean Dungan; Ken Ehrlich; Cameron Fase; Amanda Greene; Matthew Grover; Erik Huig; Lenny Dodge-Kahn and Stanya Kahn; Brennen, Damon, Louisa, and Mara McCarthy; Maggie Nelson; Renée Petropoulos; Beatrice and Pilar Petropoulos-White; Bryan Ricci; Ann-Marie Rounkle; Janet Sarbanes; Gail Swanlund; Catherine Taft; and Roger White.

Graphic-design genius Gail Swanlund curated/choreographed these drawings into zesty new combinations. She’s from Minnesota, and holds the cabin record for most snow shoveled by one person in two hours.

—Benjamin Weissman

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Benjamin Weissman teaches in the graduate programs of Art Center College of Design and Otis College of Art and Design. He is the author of two books of short fiction, most recently Headless. A new story of his appears in the current issue of McSweeney’s.

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