Ashes and Snow, a grand-scale exhibit of 100 photographic works covering the walls of a 56,000-square-foot temporary museum, is being set up beside the Santa Monica Pier (ocean end of Colorado Avenue) in Santa Monica.

The exhibit opens for public view on Saturday, January 14th; and remains on display through Sunday, May 14th. Admission to the exhibition is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for students and free for children six years old and under.

The exhibit was conceptualized and created by artist Gregory Colbert with the “Nomadic Museum” structure designed by architect Shigeru Ban. The structure is composed largely of recyclable and reusable materials — used shipping containers for the walls and paper tubing for the roof and columns.

Environmentalist Paul Hawken has been working as chief organizer of the exhibit.

“Gregory Colbert is someone who has gone to great lengths to think through the artistic process,” says Hawken.”Artists are inventors when it comes to media, very inventive.”

Much of Colbert’s creative process tends to be on the mysterious side.

“Some of the paper was made in Japan using a 13th century technique,” says Hawken. “The imagery is covered with layers of beeswax. It’s a handcrafted process, much different than something like a billboard.”

Colbert prefers to keep some of his technique a mystery, and won’t reveal certain details about his printmaking process, says Hawken.

“I can tell you its not a photographic emulsion,” says Hawken. “[Colbert] doesn’t tell anyone about his printmaking process.”

The Santa Monica exhibit is the third large-scale exhibit for Colbert. The first was in Venice, Italy, and the second was in New York City. Colbert has worked on Ashes and Snow for the past 14 years.

Colbert, who calls animals “nature’s living masterpieces,” seeks to capture extraordinary moments of contact between man and animal in his photographic works.

Colbert has gone on about 30 personal and artistic journeys to places including India, Egypt, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Ethiopia, Namibia, Tonga, the Azores, Antarctica and Borneo to explore the natural interaction between man and animal.

“In exploring the shared language and poetic sensibilities of all animals, I am working towards rediscovering the common ground that once existed when people lived in harmony with animals,” says Colbert. “The images depict a world that is without beginning or end, here or there, past or present. I hope the overall effect is an experience of wonder and contemplation, serenity and hope.

“I believe the Australian Aboriginals were exploring the same enchantments when they painted animals; they were not interested in merely painting the contours of their bodies. They focused equally on the animal’s interior dream life. The cave paintings of the San from the Kalahari Desert in Africa and the art of other indigenous tribes around the world demonstrate their ability to look from the inside out. When I started Ashes and Snow in 1992, I set out to explore the relationship between man and animals from the inside out.”

The Nomadic Museum building is composed of 152 steel cargo containers, stacked and secured in a checkerboard pattern to create rigid walls. The roof trusses are partially constructed of paper tubes that rest on two-and-a-half-foot paper tube columns. Designed for easy assembly and disassembly, the entire exhibition will be packed into eight containers as it travels from place to place The remaining 144 containers will not be transported but rather borrowed at each new location.

Information, (310) 458-8786.