Travelling to Spain in the midst of a heatwave inspired artist Maxwell N. Burnstein’s new series on the environmental impacts facing the region. “Mi Amor” examines the extreme weather created by climate change and it’s impact on urban dwellings. Rising temperatures and an eroding coastline are making Spain a desert as “Hothouse Earth” stops the planet from rehabilitating. High-risk temperatures and sweeping fires are reshaping the landscape. Spain’s coastline is creeping inland with rising sea levels and stronger currents washing away coastal populations. “Mi Amor” illustrates what meteorologists describe as the new normal through deconstructing original landscape photography with an x-acto knife.
Your series is a beautiful love letter to coastal Spain. Can you tell us a bit about your journey there? Outside of this series what is your relationship to the area?
A heat wave slowed the coastal cities I explored in Spain last summer. Madrid’s dense architecture and the nostalgic beaches of Valencia were sweltering. The geographical shifts brought on by climate change were brought to my attention while in the country. I used my collage artworks to visualize these changes as part of the growing dialogue around climate change.
Have you always been passionate about global warming and how has this cause influenced your other work?
Artwork is a tool that can create conversations around specific topics. These works are beautiful and evoke viewers to face challenging ideas like rising sea levels and creeping coastlines. This was a subject I studied and could share through my artwork. The collages visualize my voice.
What changes have you made in your own life to reduce your carbon footprint?
Reducing your carbon footprint sounds like work, but it’s not. Using energy efficient light bulbs, launder with cold water, unplug electronics and taking public transport are small changes that help your community’s resources.
Are your pieces entirely digital or do you work in analog as well?
The biggest misconception about my work is it’s digital – it’s handmade. My practice preserves analog techniques in the digital age. Constructed using an x-acto knife, tape and glue, the final collage is scanned into digital files for use.
Your commercial work keeps you pretty busy. How do find a balance between work that pays the bills and work that you passionate about?
Representing myself means handling all the business operations and production of artwork. Creating and developing new opportunities means I live in a state of motion. This drive has pushed open doors in the fine art space where I create more personal work, like the series Mi Amor.
What has been your favourite brand to collaborate with?
Summer has been exciting, working with Fendi, Alfred Dunhill, WWD and several editions of ELLE. Every client is different to work with and my job is make artwork that tells a story. The reception has been great and some exciting new work is to follow.
How do you see your work evolving in 2020?
The next year is about expanding my presence as an environmental activist through artwork. Developing work and strategies to educate audiences through analog collage is my goal outside commercial work.