January 28, 2015

This January we kicked off our new Artist in Residence program with local Texas artist, Maximilian Quéripel. Max is an artist and designer based in Dallas, Texas. Ashley Lovell, our Director of Partnerships and Outreach, spoke with Max about his love of nature, his favorite places in Texas, and his goals for his residency with the TLC.

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Ashley: Where did you develop your interest in nature and conservation?

Max: I grew up in Colorado and I took a lot of fieldtrips into the great outdoors when I was little. I went to a charter school and we learned a lot about science while out in nature. I’m really a product of where I grew up. I don’t feel like nature and the environment are advertised as much in Texas as they were in Colorado. Nature is not packaged the same way here as it is in the other western states. I guess the open plains don’t smack you in the face like mountains do. People think, “Oh, that’s just a cornfield, or that’s just a ranch.” That’s why I think working with landowners and advertising this work is really important.

A: What are some of your goals for your residency with the TLC?

M: I want to help you communicate your message more clearly. For example, we’re working on an infographic right now that explains what a conservation easement is and how they are used to protect land in Texas. There is a lot of dense information about these easements, and we need to cut through that information so that people can look at something for 30 seconds and know what an easement is all about. Another goal is to bring people into the organization through art. We can draw people in and get them interested in the TLC with a cool shirt and some posters, just making conservation more fun.

A: How do we make conservation more fun?

M: Artwork can show a more personable side of conservation and make protecting the environment more dynamic and less sterile. I think a lot of people see two sides of conservationists. On one side we have Boy Scouts doing service trips and learning how to be outside. On the other side we have crazy guys with dreadlocks trying to burn down oil refineries. We have to help people see that it’s the people and the perspectives in the middle of that spectrum that are doing good work. There’s an image issue here. Artists often focus on issues like poverty or on themselves. We’ve moved away from creating images of nature.

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A: I feel like a lot of photographers are focusing on landscapes and wildlife but a lot of other artistic mediums aren’t paying as much attention to nature.

M: That’s the story of art history in the United States. During our westward expansion everyone (aka Remington, etc.) was painting landscapes. As photographic technology progressed it became less necessary to represent nature through paintings. Now that everybody has a camera I think it’s becoming more important to represent nature through other forms of artistic expression.

A: What inspires your art?

M: Quiet situations, small situations. I really enjoy when something can communicate on two levels, when it starts with a simple concept which then encourages more analysis. For example I really like the western author Louis Lamour. He’s direct but he’s also saying something with the words that he leaves out.

A: What are some of your favorite places in Texas?

M: I haven’t been in Texas very long , but Cedar Ridge Preserve in Dallas is one of my favorite places. It is run by the Audubon Society.

Max will be producing a series of prints and infographics for the TLC over the next year. We will be selling the prints, t-shirts, and other products we create with Max at our monthly happy hours and online through our shop. Please check back soon to see new merchandise! 

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Protecting the Nature of Texas
In the spring of 2012, filmmaker Ben Hamilton travelled around the state to capture TLC's conservation work. Along the way he met three landowners who have chosen to conserve their land with TLC. Hear their heartfelt stories of Texas heritage and love for the land and enjoy spring wildflowers, sweeping vistas and bright Texas stars in this moving nine-minute tribute to the work of Texas Land Conservancy.

The Future of Texas
Another great take on the work we do here at Texas Land Conservancy- be among the first to view our brand new short film by the talented Ben Hamilton of Pioneer Videography. If you would like to support protecting land all over our amazing state click here to make a charitable contribution today! Our work is only made possible by generous donations from people like you.

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