But it’s not just the smoking and ingestion of this plant - it’s the many other uses that have given it popularity over the centuries. The word “canvas” comes from the word “cannabis”. Canvas used to be made from hemp fiber. Hemp is as strong and durable as linen canvas, but much less expensive. Rembrandt and Van Gogh used hemp canvas for their oil paintings, as cost was of concern to these financially strapped artists.
At one point cannabis was considered so valued that it was legal tender (money) in most of the Americas from 1631 until the early 1800s.
” You could pay your taxes with cannabis hemp throughout America for over 200 years.” (as noted in Hemp's history)
In more modern times, many artists have used the subject of marijuana within their artwork. They have done so both figuratively and literally.
Rip Off Press, in San Francisco, published the infamous Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comic in the 1970’s. It was the first printing press to produce what is known as “underground comix” They were adult comics that dealt with the enjoyment of drugs, particularly marijuana. The Freak Brothers comic is all about getting stoned, and poking fun at the establishment and right-wing politics – typical of that counter-culture era.
Fred Tomaselli is best known for his use of drugs as a medium. He embeds hemp leaves and various other psychoactive and pharmaceutical drugs of choice within his glossy, resin-covered paintings. As noted in Better living through chemistry…, he wants the drugs in his art to travel through the viewer’s eyeballs, rather than through their bloodstream to alter consciousness.
Taking things a step further is Fernando de La Rocque. He is known for his art-making process that involves smoking a joint. He blows marijuana smoke onto pre-cut stencils of religious or political figures laid down on canvas. He “paints” by blowing smoke onto his stencils (and at the art world). For him, this process is all about creating controversy and dialogue through his art-making process.
So if on 4/20, at 4:20 you end up sitting and staring at a blank hemp canvas, you may want to roll it, light it and go 420ing.