Altered State: New Exhibit At Oakland Museum of California


May 10, 2016

Good seed, or evil weed? That’s the big question raised in the new exhibit, Altered State, at OMCA, which explores California’s complex relationship with marijuana. Having the exhibit in Oakland is appropriate, as the Town has had a unique history with marijuana, being at the forefront in the fight to decriminalize weed. To top it off, Altered State is the first exhibit ever to focus on the topic of pot. The show is divided into 10 different sections, each focusing on a different perspective, with each section designed to reflect the diverse ways in which cannabis is considered by the public. These perspectives range from the medical field, social and economic standpoints, spirituality, politics, culture, and legal viewpoints, all analyzed in an balanced, unbiased fashion, allowing the viewer to come to his or her own conclusion. Here’s a quick little breakdown of what to expect from the exhibit:

Sacred ( Marijuana and Spirituality): Starts with one of many intriguing videos displayed in the exhibit. This section primarily examines the healing aspects of marijuana and how it can be used in sacred ceremonies and rituals. Femininity is brought up a lot, along with spirits, inspirational elements. and the notion that it is a way of life rather than a religion –  for example Rastas, sacred sisters, yogis.  Also, focused heavily on prayer.

Youth: Looks at the old vs new in terms of how we are dealing with pot these days. Explores the myth vs what we know and science. Focuses on old stigmas, older campaigns, like ‘Just Say No’ and DARE. Lots of old anti- drug ads that can be both nostalgic and terrifying simultaneously.

Medical: Discusses role dispensaries play in legalization process, what they do, and how they operate. Includes testimonials from patients – how pot has helped them cope with their specific situation. Had an interactive forum for people to write their own experience with using weed for medical reasons. Had another interactive piece that supports and debunks common myths about the effectiveness of marijuana for physical and psychological conditions.

Profitability: What kind of markets will emerge from the legalization of weed? Should legalization actually happen? Is there an ecological impact? What jobs will be created if pot is legalized? This part of the exhibit focuses on economic growth opportunities, all the new industry specific jobs that would be created from the whole ‘green rush.’

Political:  This section focuses on the political process involved in weed legalization. How do we go from green in groups like Norml to legalization across the states? How hard is the process and what does it entail? There is a specific focus on Bay Area history and its progression from illegal to decriminalizing weed to medical use. Interactive component included the opportunity to make your own political sign to help raise awareness on personal perspectives relating to the issue.

Criminality: This section had many info graphics, like one showing the continental US and each state’s approach to weed’s legality. It focused on why we need to reform in US, wasting money on of ticketing and arrests that disproportionately target low-income and minority neighborhoods, like East Oakland, for example. This section was very thought provoking and illuminated the hypocritical and racist ways in which pot is demonized

The exhibit is set up to be accessible and visually stimulating, as the it allows viewers to delve into the dense subject matter in a fun and relaxed way. The info graphics, interactive booths, videos, live pot plants, smelling station, handling station, old anti-weed propaganda videos from over the years, pop culture relics, art, all combine to tell the story about the rich, layered, and complex story of marijuana. It’s a great blend of education and entertainment – check out Altered State for a great way to spend an afternoon in The Town.

What: Oakland Museum of California’s exhibit exploring different perspectives on weed throughout history through a  range of interactive displays, posters, info-graphics, and more.

Where: Oakland Musuem of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland.

Admission: $15.95 general; $10.95 seniors and students; $6.95 youth. In recognition of the “counterculture holiday” observance of “4/20,” admission will be reduced to $4.20 on April 20.

When: Opened Saturday, April 16, and will stay open until September 26.

For more info on OMCA and the exhibit, check out there website:www.museumca.org.

ALSO, OMCA is featuring some very exciting shows starting in July with “Oakland, I Want You To Know,” a focus on new and old stories from the rapidly changing neighborhood of West Oakland. In October, there will be an exhibit named “All Power to the People” celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party, and in November, there will be a spotlight on legendary photographer Dorothea Lange. Stay tuned!




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