First type of art exhibition all about weed


The Pioneer

Wendy Medina,
Copy Editor

A weed exhibition in an art museum seems like an idea someone had after they hit a blunt, but marijuana in museums have had a long overdue debut.

Oakland Museum of California’s exhibit, “Altered State: Marijuana in California,” is the first of it’s kind and opens April 16 — just in time for 420.

The exhibit reveals the insides of the modernist concrete structure into a completely reimagined display that revolves around marijuana.

It features an installation that distorts the audience’s view of time and space by local artist Cybele Lyle, a “Cannabis Confessional,” for private ganja thoughts and live specimens of cannabis. An interactive experience, visitors will be allowed participate in some of the exhibits.

All in an attempt to spark conversation about marijuana, this exhibition urges viewers to bring forth any sentiment towards weed and inspect the evolving attitudes, not only in the recreational sphere, but through political perspectives and scientific data as well.

“We have designed an open and participatory experience to engage anyone who has an opinion or wants to learn more about the complex issues and information about this topic, which is relevant to all Californians,” said Associate Curator of Natural Sciences Dr. Sarah Seiter. “We’re interested in presenting a forum for all sides of deep community conversations about marijuana, it’s history, politics, culture and impacts on our state.”

With the “California Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Initiative,” or the long-awaited weed bill, on the ballot in November, the push to legalize is closer than ever. However, some Californians are torn because although weed will be legal for recreational use, some opposition lies within the measure’s plan to “[designate] state agencies to license and regulate marijuana industry [and impose a] state excise tax on retail sales of marijuana equal to 15 percent of sales price,” according to the California Office of the Attorney General.

A progressive state such as California, was first to initiate legality of medical marijuana, weed has been state legal since 2010, however growth and/or possession would still fall under violation of federal law.

A somewhat muddled situation for our state as a whole, as prior bills to legalize have been shot down, reefer madness is booming nonetheless. According to Fortune Magazine, legal cannabis has raked in around $5.4 billion in 2015 alone, and is expected to rise in 2016. This only accounts for legal distribution — imagine the illegal sales. This massive industry thrives in the streets, in the hundreds of dispensaries around the Bay and now may even be delivered to your doorstep.

It’s important to have the talk to be up to date on all tangents, which is why this exhibit aims to inform residents about this hot-issue plant more than anything, while also contributing the community’s opinion to the conversation.

Works of art range from political posters and documents, scientific displays, to multimedia exhibits. The provocative plant is examined under the scope of ten different sections — Cannabis Science, Medical Marijuana, Profitable Pot, Sacred Ganja, Criminal Dope, Creative Grass, Evil Weed, Politically Loaded, Youth and Weed and Recreational Reefer.

A selected few to focus on include Cannabis Science, which explores the elemental structures of each cannabinoid specie and its physiology, Sacred Ganja displays how Mary J contains roots of “spiritual history” in ancient cultures and Creative Grass seeks to convey how marijuana heightens creativity, aided by Cybele Lyle’s walk-in installation.

In addition, Evil Weed highlights the process in which it slowly became decriminalized after the bad rap it had in American culture since it was outlawed in 1937, demonstrated through newspapers, pulp novels, quotations and photographs of that history.

“Altered State” seemingly covers all aspects of the herb and provides the grounds for discussion about marijuana status in California through not only data and history, but personal stories and clashing perspectives.

An artistic spin on becoming aware of both the positive and negative impacts pot brings, OMCA Director Lori Fogarty stated, “At OMCA, we aim to inspire Californians to create a more vibrant future for themselves and their communities. As part of this, we are dedicated to being a place where people can come learn about complex topics and, more importantly, add their voices and stories to the dialogue. This exhibition is proof of that in action.”

“Altered State: Marijuana in California” opens April 16 through Sept. 25 in Oakland Museum of California’s Great Hall, with April 20 admission at $4.20 in recognition of the holiday.