Artist Laurie Shapiro Showcases her Latest Cannabis Inspired Installation, 'Flowers Are Not a Crime’ at Governor's Ball 2022
By: Arbaz Khan
As the artist of the ‘Flowers Are Not a Crime’ installation, recently sponsored by Weedmaps, Laurie Shapiro has distinguished herself within the artistic spaces available, executing a mixed-media style without losing the interactivity she has maintained to keep an intimate audience. On her latest installation, ‘Flowers Are Not a Crime’, showcased at Governor’s Ball 2022, Shapiro taps into her expansive knowledge, commenting on modern society and pushing for commentary through a familiar experience.
Journeyed from New York, Pennsylvania, Ankara Turkey, and now based in Los Angeles, Shapiro has sojourned the cultures of her different geographies and imbued them through her personal explorations in the work. You can see the evolution of her art and styles in this new installation. It serves almost like a religious center holding itself for its parishioners to commune with their weed experiences whilst still acknowledging the sacrifices made to get to a place of sanctity.
Laurie Shapiro on her latest art installation ‘Flowers Are Not a Crime,’ and the intersection of weed, art, and community.
You were taught at Bilkent University for a semester in Ankara Turkey while studying at Carnegie Mellon. How has Islamic art influenced you?
I loved visiting mosques around Turkey and immersing myself in these beautiful spaces. I visited massive and new mosques, as well as old, tiny stone mosques. All had such a magical feel.
What inspired you as you were producing “Flowers Are Not a Crime”? Do you listen to music or podcasts?
I was inspired by the work that the "Last Prisoner Project" is doing - a nonprofit working to get anyone incarcerated from weed out of jail. I was also inspired by the aesthetics of the plant (weed) itself.
Lots of phases to creating an installation. Which phase is the most challenging for you? Which phase is the most rewarding?
Logistics and planning are the most challenging. Seeing everything come together finished is the most rewarding.
Worst piece of advice you’ve heard on your art?
My advice to anyone following their own dreams and path, whether it's art or any individual pursuit: don't listen to anyone's advice who hasn't done something similar and/or whom you admire. Many people want to give advice even though they have no experience and/or success. Don't listen to these people. Only listen to those with relevant success and experience.
Your work is this layer-building approach to painting with mixed-media work. What are the main elements that makeup “Flowers Are Not a Crime”?
Painting and screen-printed drawings on vinyl over a metal truss, as well as handmade lights with the same screen-printed drawings.
You celebrate the joy, and communal aspects, of cannabis, but you don’t shy away
from its history of being controversial. Can you talk a little about that?
Sure, I know how people will interact with my installations, but as an artist, I also have a voice. I think it's important to shine the light that not everyone who uses and has used weed has the same privileges. There are still many people in prison for weed. The war on drugs was a racist war against primarily black Americans. According to the ACLU, "black people are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession even though black and white people use marijuana at comparable rates." Legalization is great, but we can't forget about the people who are still incarcerated.
Do you create for the expert or the novice? Is there a pretend audience you keep in mind? If so, how do you bring them into the psychedelia without compromising the sense of intimacy your work brings?
I create for myself and because I need to. The audience, naturally, ends up being people who simply connect to the work.