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When most people think of sand castles, they don’t envision large, elaborately carved pieces of sculptural art that would impress even Donatello himself. But for a select few who have turned to the abundant granules that cover the beaches of our world for use as canvas, sand sculpting is as challenging as working with just about any other medium. That is why in late June, sculptors, woodworkers, and master craftsmen gather on the quiet beaches of New Hampshire to show off their skills for a chance to take home the gold at the Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition.

The competition, going on for over a decade now, honors creators who make more than just castles in the sand. These expertly crafted sculptures often boggle most people’s conceptions of the kinds of work that one is capable of producing using just sand. This year, the top prize went to Cleveland-based sculptor and woodworker, Carl Jara. He created a perspective-shifting sculpture titled “Infinity”. The piece features an intricately carved man holding a miniature version of himself who is holding a miniature version of himself , ad infinitum. Looking like something out of a music video, Jara’s piece seems to continue well beyond of the reach of the viewer, with giant fingers protruding from the earth where the sculpture stands.

This is not Jara’s first foray into the world of competitive sand sculpture. The artist, who has been interested in sand sculpting since his high school days, has been active in the field for well over 15 years. Jara currently holds nine world record trophies and countless other awards for his work in International competitions, has been featured on the Travel Channel and serves as the exhibit artisan at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

When you consider Jara’s artistic training, its not surprising that he is quickly making a name for himself in the world of sand sculpture. Jara began his artistic career as a graphic designer and illustrator, but realized when it came time for him to choose a specialization that he had no desire to either design or illustrate. He says that his true passion lies in sculpting. He received his in-field training on sand sculpting from the President For Life of the International Association of Sand Castle Builders, a relationship that helped to solidify his understanding of the incredible mutability of sand. His first major breakthrough came as a project he completed for a school, a fifteen-foot-tall sculpture that graced the front pages of papers and saw his name make it into National news for the first time

Large in scale and delicately detailed, Jara’s sculptures borrow from the surreal in both size and content, becoming larger and larger as the artist becomes more skilled in his craft. It is no surprise that Jara continues to rack up awards at competitions. Watch the video for his latest piece, Infinity, to get an idea of how it is that Jara creates his masterful pieces of art. Learn more about Jara by visiting his website.

Header image via Carl Jara/Grain Damaged on Flickr

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