There are very few mediums in this world that can express the human experience at its most raw and basic level better than visual art. The right painting with the perfect colour and mood can do as much for the human psyche as any known physical substance.
In the modern-day world of endless technology and fast-paced living, art does not receive the level of attention or support it deserves, but the cannabis community is coming to the rescue.
Canopy Growth Corporation, owners of Tweed, one of the larger marijuana brands in Canada, has created an artist-in-residence program. Documentary filmmaker and photographer, Ezra Soiferman, is the company’s first resident.
“My main thing is making documentary TV shows,” Soiferman said in an interview with Marijuana.com. “That’s how I earn my living, and that’s how I spend most of my time.”
Photography has always been one of his passions, but it regularly took a back seat to pay the bills. “Tweed is allowing me to spend the time that I really want to devote to photography this year and in the future. I am fascinated by the whole industry, the culture, the science of the cannabis subject. There is nothing as versatile on this planet as this plant.”
Soiferman had been keeping a close eye on Tweed and Canopy Growth since their creation. In 2014, he emailed the co-founder and CEO at the time, Chuck Rifici. Soiferman said, “I just introduced myself. I said that I was a filmmaker in Montreal and I think what you are doing is brilliant.” He then mailed the CEO a vintage Hershey’s Chocolate Calendar from the 1950’s, as the company’s headquarters are in the old Hershey’s Chocolate Factory in Smiths Falls, Ontario. Rifici answered, thanked him for the kind words, and asked him to keep in touch.
Shortly after that, Canopy Growth became a major player in the global marijuana community. “Tweed gets really big and [at the same time]I land this project called Grass Fed, which is my first full-length documentary film,” said Soiferman. The documentary follows actor/comedian Mike Paterson as he “tries a cannabis-infused diet and a radically healthy lifestyle to help him treat his debilitating back pain and turn his health around in time for his wedding.” Tweed was the licensed producer chosen by Paterson for his prescribed medicine in the film, and Ezra saw this as an opportunity to call and work with them directly.
The filmmakers reached out to Tweed and received a call back from their Vice President of Law. He invited the crew to film a tour of their facilities. “It’s one of the big scenes in the movie,” said Soiferman. The Vice President of Law turned out to be Mark Zekulin, who took over as President of Canopy Growth Corporation, the parent company of Tweed and all its related properties.
The film aired on CBC Documentary Channel across Canada in 2015 and Tweed loved it. At the same time, Soiferman came up with the wild idea that Tweed should have an artist-in-residence program.
“I put together a whole package [that had] samples of my work, photographs, copies of my videos, etc. I addressed it to Mark Zekulin with the pitch of becoming their first sponsored artist. A week later I followed up and he loved the idea,” said Soiferman.
Marijuana.com caught up with Zekulin to get his thoughts on this interesting new program. “We get a lot of people who come through and are interested in our story and product of course. Ezra was one of those people and he showed up doing his documentary Grass Fed. That was the first time we met him,” said Zekulin.
Zekulin added that Soiferman is an amazing artist with a passion for hemp and cannabis. “It’s something we hope that we’ll have year after year, with Ezra being the first person to do this,” said Zekulin.
Soiferman confirmed that Tweed has given him a budget for equipment, travel and an honorarium as their premiere artist-in-residence. He also has complete creative control over the year-long period, and although some of the projects he’s planning will directly focus on marijuana, others may not have anything to do with it.
Once series focused on cannabis is titled Macrojuana. “It will be awesome, artistic macro-photographs of cannabis. It’s not just going to be conventional bud porn; it will have an artist’s sensibility,” said Soiferman.
The art created through this residency will be displayed in art galleries, short films posted online, and any other appropriate outlet or medium. In this year-long symbiotic existence, Tweed will be connected with Soiferman and vice-versa. When Soiferman has a show, Tweed will have its name involved and when the public sees them involved, they will get familiar with the brand.
The artist-in-residence program at Tweed officially started in July, and the kickoff project is available online. The short film, called “The Walls of Montreal”, is an overview of some of the 1,500 murals across Montreal set to music by American folk rocker Josh Ritter.
“All Cannabis Photos by Ezra Soiferman”