In February, the New Museum and MFNY, one of New York’s leading licensed cultivators/processors, joined forces to present "Nothing New," a cannabis exhibition created by artist Puppies Puppies (Jade Guanaro Kuriki-Olivo). 

After Undergoing Brain Tumor Removal, Artist Kuriki-Olivo Turns to CBD To Aid in Recovery.

The exhibition came from the artist’s journey of healing and resilience after undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor in 2010.  During her recovery, Kuriki-Olivo turned to cannabidiol (CBD)—a compound extracted from hemp plants—as a remedy to manage the seizures that commonly occur post-surgery. 

The three-vignette installation explored the artist’s spaces in both physical and metaphysical environments as it took the viewer through the complexities of  journey and recovery with the help of cannabis. It also featured live CBD hemp plants  Kuriki-Olivo used during her treatment that were provided to the museum by MFNY

"Nothing New" by artist Puppies Puppies (C) New Museum

“"It feels like an important thing to do. As we reached out to MFNY, there was so much enthusiasm and support for doing this project and to bring these kinds of worlds that aren't in dialogue enough together,” says Kuriki-Olivo.

During a panel introducing the installation, discussions centered on how the concepts of healing, identity, and the intersection of art and cannabis culture were embedded in the identity of the exhibit. Speakers included Natalia Kaminskaya, Head of Brand and Culture at MFNY; Vivian Crockett, Curator of Contemporary Art at the museum, and the artist herself.

A election of offerings from the cannabis brand MNFY (C) New Museum

“We [at MFNY] were honored when they approached us to donate plants for this exhibit and have been happy to support the museum and Jade to help bring her vision to life,” said Natalia Kaminskaya. 

New Exhibit Promotes The Normalization of Cannabis Through Public Exposure.

"Nothing New" not only represented a journey of healing through artistic expression, but also acts as a platform to challenge societal perceptions of cannabis. 

“Part of normalizing cannabis, and cannabis consumption, whether for medical or recreational use, is to get it into normal, unexpected places with lots of different types of people,” Kaminskaya said. “ I can’t think of a better place than a museum.”

"Nothing New" by artist Puppies Puppies (C) New Museum

The inclusion of cannabis plants in one of New York’s coveted museums was a groundbreaking one, bringing the world of cannabis to larger audiences, and facilitating dialogue and acceptance. 

"I hope it's the start of more conversations around that beyond a kind of, you know, going to the corner store,” said curator Vivian Crockett.

The New Museum Takes on the Challenges of Hosting and Regulating the Living Exhibit.

While MFNY’s partnership was met with a warm welcome by the New Museum, it did not come without its challenges. 

“[Kuriki-Olivo’s] vision to include an indoor cannabis farm in the exhibit is why we’re all here today; but of course we must commend the museum’s willingness to take on the regulatory challenges associated with just putting live plants on display,” Kaminskaya said. 

Natalia Kaminskaya of MFNY (center), and Vivian Crockett (left) and Ian Wallace (right) of the New Museum (C) New Museum

Crockett also mentioned the challenges that came with navigating the legalities of hosting live cannabis plants in the space.

“It’s something that we've had to be very careful about keeping the parameters within this license that we had received,” she said. “There was no precedent for this. There wasn't any kind of idea.” 

The Power of Cannabis and its Everlasting Impact Through Artist’s Like  Kuriki-Olivo.

As "Nothing New" came to a close, it left a lasting impact on both the art world and the cannabis community, serving as a testament to the power of art to provoke thought, inspire empathy, and challenge the status quo. 

By daring to showcase live cannabis plants in a museum setting, Kuriki-Olivo, MFNY and the New Museum pushed boundaries and paved the way for future conversations around the intersection of art, culture, and cannabis.

Mario Guzman of Sherbinski's, Lulu Tsui, co-founder/CEO of On The Revel, and Victorine Deych, founder of DUSTED (C) New Museum

"Nothing New’s" message stood as a bold statement about the potential of art to catalyze change and foster understanding. As cannabis legalization continues to gain momentum globally, events like "Nothing New" play a vital role in shaping perceptions and promoting dialogue. 

By embracing innovation and collaboration, the New Museum and MFNY have set a precedent for cultural institutions seeking to engage with contemporary issues in meaningful and transformative ways.


Written By:

Elara Montana is Editorial Director of The Lexington Line at LIM College. A Fashion Media major, she is currently in her junior year.

@elara_montana (IG)

Elara Montana (LinkedIn)


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New Museum of Contemporary Art

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Vivian Crockett

Mario Guzman

Lulu Tsui

Victorine Deych


Featured image: Artist Puppies Puppies (Jade Guanaro Kuriki-Olivo): "Nothing New" (C) New Museum