Jim Duggan has been carving ice in the Atlanta area for twenty years. He started his sculpting career after graduating from the Culinary Art program at the Art Institute of Atlanta in 1991, the first graduating class of the school. Jim worked with chefs who allowed him to study the field of ice sculpture. He soon left the kitchen to work full time in the art of ice sculpture.
“I feel closest to God when I have a chainsaw in my hands and I’m cutting. It’s a spiritual thing for me and I meditate as I carve. I’ve been carving for so long now, I’m not thinking as much as I work. I tune everything out and reflect—I can really work through a lot of problems when I’m carving.” ~Jim Duggan
Eight years ago, Jim founded ICE Sculpture, INC. He has provided sculptures to events hosting President Carter, President Bush, Snoop Dogg, The Thrashers, Tuskegee Airmen, Madonna, NHL All Star Game, and more. Jim’s favorite event each year is carving ice for Atlanta Motor Speedway and NASCAR. He has also designed and created ice for two movies.
Jim says, “Ice carving is a temporary medium and ice has a life of its own. There’s the production—the creative process where you create the sculpture. But once you set it out, the ice tempers and frosts up, then it starts to melt. As an ice carver, I’m creating something that I know is going to change. It should look best an hour after it begins to melt. I want guests to get the ‘wow factor’ as they walk in. As the sculpture melts, it starts to disappear. It’s turning back into water and the circle will begin all over again.”
Jim is a founding member of the Atlanta Ice Marvels. The team has twice placed in the Top 5 at the Ice Carving World Championships in Alaska. They are competing in the 2013 competition beginning February 26th.
He says, “My competitors are my teammates for the Alaska competition. It’s a tight-knit group. If one of us is having a problem, we help each other out. The ice sculpting industry in Atlanta used to be really cutthroat, but after we started going to Alaska, we saw that we need each other. No company can do everything. You might sell a job and need other companies to help you—people you can count on.”
For the last ten years, Jim has taught the art of ice sculpture part-time in conjunction with the culinary arts program at Chattahoochee Technical College. When he has free time, Jim likes to carve woodcarvings for friends and family.
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