How ingenious to find beautiful, stunning images in something as ordinary as a ski resort lift ticket.

When former CEO & Director Heidi Zuckerman came to Aspen to head up the Aspen Art Museum, she noticed the blank square on the lift tickets fluttering on jackets and ski pants as people bustled around town. Unaccustomed to this ski resort norm, Heidi cleverly saw the lift tickets as a blank canvas begging for artwork.

Ever since, Aspen Skiing Company has displayed unique, contemporary art on their lift tickets, which evolved from paper cards to ‘credit card style’ radio-frequency cards in the 2009-2010 season. Aspen Art Museum and Aspen Skiing Company started the collaboration in 2005 — with this season marking the 15th consecutive year of notable contemporary artists providing artwork for these unique lift tickets.

Past artists who designed lift tickets include: Hank Willis Thomas, Paula Crown, Yutaka Sone, Peter Doig, Karen Kilimnik, Jim Hodges, Carla Klein, Mamma Andersson, Mark Grotjahn, David Shrigley, Mark Bradford, Anne Collier, Takashi Murakami and Laura Owens.

Many skiers proudly collect and catalogue their ski adventures by ski passes and lift tickets. Aspen Skiing Company’s tickets stand apart from traditional lift tickets thanks to the aesthetic of the artwork displayed.

2019-20's Artist: Susan Te Kahurangi King

Susan Te Kahurangi King - Aspen Snowmass Lift Ticket Art
Susan Te Kahurangi King - Aspen Snowmass Lift Ticket Art

Susan Te Kahurangi King - Aspen Snowmass Lift Ticket Art
Susan Te Kahurangi King - Aspen Snowmass Lift Ticket Art

New Zealand native Susan Te Kahurangi King is behind the 2019–2020 season’s lift ticket artwork.

Born in Te Aroha, New Zealand in 1951 as the second in a family of twelve children, King showed artistic expression at a young age. When she was 3 years old, her linguistic skills began to decline. By the time she turned 7, she did not speak at all. As she lost her ability to communicate verbally, her artistic talents flourished and she connected to people through her captivating art. Her grandmother and teachers acknowledged and encouraged her artistic skills. In later years, she attended a special school in Auckland where her art aptitude flourished. Within her artistic career, her prolific drawings came to a halt for two decades due to depression. Fortunately for the art world, in 2008, King resumed her drawings and continues to create today.
Susan Te Kahurangi King - Aspen Snowmass Lift Ticket Art
Susan Te Kahurangi King - Aspen Snowmass Lift Ticket Art

Susan Te Kahurangi King - Aspen Snowmass Lift Ticket Art
Susan Te Kahurangi King - Aspen Snowmass Lift Ticket Art

King’s tools for drawing include: graphite, pencil, crayon, ink and pens of various types. King used colorful felt tip markers in the drawings exhibited on the lift ticket images. Her abstract drawings evoke similar feelings that one has when they are skiing. The bright, colorful, moving shapes in King’s six lift ticket images mirror the vibrancy, brilliance and action of propelling down the slopes. Primary reds, yellows, blues mixed with bright pinks, light blues and browns harmonize within these kinetic, pleasing collages.
Susan Te Kahurangi King - Aspen Snowmass Lift Ticket Art
Susan Te Kahurangi King - Aspen Snowmass Lift Ticket Art

Susan Te Kahurangi King - Aspen Snowmass Lift Ticket Art
Susan Te Kahurangi King - Aspen Snowmass Lift Ticket Art

King’s exhibition history is extensive with representation in major art fairs, galleries and museums by prominent curators. She is a self-taught artist that has been characterized as both an "outsider artist" and a "contemporary artist." Outsider artists typically exemplify extreme mental states, unconventional ideas, or naive, elaborate fantasy worlds. Capricious, eccentric and unusual, her compositions leave interpretation up to the viewer.

The pleasant surprise of the lift ticket artwork continues to inspire thoughts and conversations throughout the town and mountains — in the ticket office, taking pause on the way down a slope, sipping wine at lunch mulling over the meaning, or talking among strangers inside the gondola. These small mementos serve as both a memory of adventures on the slopes and as an art piece.

About the Author

Lea Tucker
Lea Tucker

LEA TUCKER

Prior to launching her own creative firm, Lea Tucker earned her chops managing international public relations for the Aspen Skiing Company for 9 years. When she’s not building creative communication campaigns for her clients, Lea can be found playing in the great outdoors: skiing, hiking, camping and en plein air watercolor painting. Lea also dabbles as a wildflower identifier, gourmet-backpacking chef, beachcomber, reader and writer.

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