Weed has had a long relationship with the creative arts. Writers, painters, musicians and artists of all walks of life have admitted to using the psychoactive component of the plant (THC) to inspire their works, some of which have delighted viewers, readers and listeners for decades. Just ask Willie Nelson, Madonna, or the slew of other creative minds that have lit up to spark their process.
This is certainly the case for Ezra Soiferman, who became the world’s first cannabis artist-in-residence in 2016. This opportunity was presented to the film-maker and photographer through Tweed, Canada’s largest producer of the plant.
Soiferman has had a loving relationship with weed for about 25 years now. “It boggles my mind how versatile it is, so this desire to learn as much as I can and meet as many people as I can in the industry has never stopped. And it’s brought me to where I am today — connecting cannabis to art and art to cannabis from the epicenter,” he has said of his ambition to present cannabis in a way that many others might not have ever thought possible.
In 1993 when he was a student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Soiferman created a thesis film called “Pressure Drop.” The film depicted an elderly man using cannabis to treat his glaucoma, and was so successful that it opened up the door to his documentarian career.
In a moment that he refers to as a “brainwave,” Soiferman thought that it would be a fantastic idea for cannabis-based companies to have an artist in residence. So he pitched his idea to Tweed, the company which he felt would be the most likely to get on board.
“It made sense to have a program that increased the visibility of Ezra’s art and in turn, the visibility of our young company. Something like this has never been done before and we like to look at ourselves as a company of firsts. We wanted to see what happened when we associated an artist to a cannabis company, but put no shackles on creativity. Ezra’s art and reach have impressed us,” said Mark Zekulin said of the photographer who reached out to him last year to begin this one-of-a-kind undertaking.
During these twelve months, Soiferman traveled across Canada not only to photograph cannabis plants, but to take all of his experiences and use them to influence his art. And the results have been nothing but positive, according to both Zekulin and Soiferman both. And the artist hopes that his success in this effort will serve as the open door necessary to get other artists involved with companies where they can share their creativity and love of weed to a mutual benefit.
“I don’t want to be the only cannabis artist-in-residence — I want to be one of many.”
Click here to see a collection of Soiferman’s works that he has chosen to share with The Cannabist.
Photo by Jurassic Blueberries