Phase Change draws inspiration from the City of Saint Paul’s annual Winter Carnival. In response to a New York reporter who in 1885 deemed the city “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation,” the Winter Carnival was created to celebrate of Minnesota’s winter beauty. It has since become a regional staple and a time-honored tradition. Held annually in downtown Saint Paul, the Winter Carnival commissions numerous ice sculptures, including ice palaces, and other winter celebrations. It draws people out into the city during the long winter, transforming winters in Minnesota into a source of pride rather than dread. The Saint Paul Winter Carnival follows in the stead of a long tradition of ice harvesting from Minnesota’s 11,824 lakes.
Phase Change also draws inspiration from the tradition of ice-harvesting, which played a significant role in Minnesota’s economy, the legacy of which can still be seen around the cities. Beginning in the early 19th century, the Midwestern ice trade not only capitalised on the formation of tonnes of harvestable ice over winter months, but also prompted an increased refrigeration of goods which in turn supported the brewing industry year-round. At its peak, the ice trade was a ~660 million dollar industry. Vestiges of the harvest trade persist in the cities --Minneapolis restaurant, Icehouse MPLS, for example, was once an actual ice house for Cedar Fuel & Ice, which housed 75,000 tons from harvest.