Global Warming vs. Art: 1978 Nova On Ice

HOUGHTON, Mich, — A broken-down, frozen, 1978 Chevy Nova isn’t exactly unusual, especially when it is found parked near a university on the frozen-tundra that most folks call the state of Michigan.

    However, when you spend hours lamenting the horrors of global warming and then freeze it inside a giant block of ice, apparently it qualifies as a work of art.

The 1978 Nova begins its transformation into art.

    As you can imagine, frozen cars are nothing new in Houghton, the town on the western side of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that is home to Michigan Tech University. But even the most frigid conditions don’t usually imprison autos in massive blocks of ice. For that, you need artists.

    If you don’t believe us, then simply ask Mary Carothers and Sue Wrbican, who are in the process of freezing the car inside a giant block of ice outside the J. Robert Van Pelt Library at Michigan Technological University.

    The two artists claim that their work is an exploration of America’s relationship with the automobile and the environmental changes that it has created.

    Now, if you are like the rest of us and simply assumed that the duo chose this classic Nova for their project due to the large number of these classics to be found in area scrap yards then you are apparently missing the deeper meaning of their work of art.

Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty? The Nova as seen from above.

    "The frozen car points to the classic struggle of culture versus nature," says Wrbican, who also notes how the automobile has stood for freedom and power in American culture. And the artists’ choice of model was deliberate–the ’78 Chevy Nova being one of The Big Three’s last true "gas guzzlers."

    The artsy duo had initially planned to drive the car to the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston in an attempt to make a political statement. However, the car broke down before it could make the trip…and the larger political statement.

    Hoping to cut their losses while at the same time making their statement, the fledgling art students hatched a new grand scheme.

    Freeze it in a giant block of ice.

    With the help of a group of high school students from Hancock High School’s wood shop class, the duo has built a frame and is now in the process of adding roughly three inches of water each day until the car is fully encased in ice.

    “That’s probably going to take a while. Because we need to build up a certain amount of base,” Carothers said. She said they were hoping to get enough of a base to get the Nova on it early this month.

    And it doesn’t end there. The artsy duo intend to stick around until early spring, explaining the deeper meaning of their project and monitoring the thawing of the block of ice until it too goes the way of the Nova.

    To find out more about this project, go to


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.