Cathy Lee’s cannabis art

Artist Cathy Lee likes cannabis, but more for the plant’s aesthetics than anything else.

Lee recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund her ongoing cannabis art series. She says her goal is to  build and paint over 60 original oil paintings depicting the cannabis plant in her own bright color palate and abstracted graffiti-influenced style.

We asked her to tell us more about the project:

CityBeat: What do you like about the aesthetics of a cannabis plant?

Cathy Lee: I love the variations of the plant’s characteristics. Some plants have chunky leaves; others have long skinny leaves. Some strains have long orange hairs, and other strains turn purple and blue. The sensimilla on some plants are short and stubby, while others are tall and leafy.

Since spending so much time examining the plant, have you learned anything interesting or unique that we might not know?

Unlike most plants that possess both sexes, cannabis has a separate male and female plant. Without the presence of the male cannabis plant during harvest (12 hours daylight, 12 hours darkness), the female plant begins to develop sensimilla, which is the flowering bud that contains the psychoactive properties that marijuana users are known to smoke, vaporize, and/ or ingest.

Another interesting lesson I have learned is that the female cannabis plant is very finicky. She demands a lot of attention and care. The environmental conditions have to be optimal in order for her to flourish. The genetics, growing medium, nutrients, environment, timing, defenses against pest and diseases, drying conditions, and storage all play important roles in successfully growing high quality sensimilla. Growing cannabis is an art in itself.

You maintain that this isn’t necessarily a ploy to push your political beliefs on someone, but isn’t it? The people who support the project or buy one of the paintings will certainly be on one side of the debate, right? And isn’t it OK for an artist to come out in support of weed?

Yes, one can argue that my cannabis art project is a ploy to push my political beliefs onto the viewers. However, my intention is not to force my views onto others. Through art, I am attempting to attract cannabis enthusiasts and art enthusiasts alike. Since I took an abstract approach with my art, I hope those who may dislike cannabis can at least appreciate the aesthetics of my cannabis art.

What do you hope this project achieves?

By combining my color variations, artistic style, and subject matter, I hope to create sixty-three original, one-of-a-kind paintings that symbolize the various characteristics of the cannabis plant.

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