I Spoke With Yegor Mikushkin = Artist For New Hampshire Cannabis Freedom Festival
The above image is titled Breeze – Oil on Canvas – 2015 – 8’x3′
First of all, tell me about your art.
I have been surrounded by art all of my life, and so have you. There is a repetitive branching system that occurs all throughout nature. Rivers, veins, capillaries, neurons and the branches of a tree all reflect the same pattern. I have been oil painting for a few years now and I feel it is the most diverse medium when working in 2-dimensions, however, it is different than the design work I grew up filling sketchbooks with. I am always exploring new things but the comfort of a pen and colored pencil always pulls me to it when creating album art, logos or designs. I believe all forms of creation and manipulation can be regarded as art. Inspiration too is art, which does not require any interactive change to occur. By viewing art or music, you are now part of the art and what you do about your feelings will be your masterpiece. The most common forms of paper and canvas art are best at expressing and understanding emotion because we have subconsciously evolved to accept the frame of the canvas as a window to the soul. Perhaps this is because most windows in your house are rectangular. Speaking of houses, art collectives save lives. Anyhow, I have always found that carrying a small sketchbook helped me deal with waiting. Everyone will have to wait at some point, so why not write a poem or doodle to fill the time. In the studio I work on large paintings, none ever finished. I do have one painting I’ve worked on for over 5 years that I would trade for a house. My favorite themes to depict or find inspiration in are Life, Death, and Birth. Although vague, I am fascinated that anything is at all and that it has a start and an end, because it feels eternal.
Obviously, cannabis legalization is something you want to represent, what brought you into the movement?
Cannabis grows from the earth, it has been here far before any human wrote a single law. The pharmacology of cannabis is amazing. Symbiotic relationships exist within humans and their surroundings. We have co-evolved with this plant and we need to understand why certain things work the way they do. What cannabis means for the medical industry, if globally legalized, will change the way we treat patients who suffer from a variety of ailments including seizures and pain. When we look back at the history of cannabis prohibition, we see an undeniable pattern. Certain industries did not want it legal because it will put them out of business. I recommend anyone reading this who is unfamiliar with the history of prohibition to do some research. Cannabis in its non-psychoactive form, as hemp, can be made into paper, fabric, bio-degradable plastic, and fuel. Hemp grows much faster than trees and produces four times more paper per acre. Mankind is cutting down trees much faster than they are growing back. Technically, this is not only a cannabis issue, this is a worldwide, planetary issue. I believe when cannabis is fully legalized, many things will come to light. We will see a major economic boost for local communities where certain materials can be locally sourced instead of relying on corporations, putting people before profit. When you research the history of this cannabis prohibition, you will notice tremendous propaganda that revolves around money, power, and greed. The pharmaceutical industry specializes in synthetics and the selling of them. If people had the freedom to grow their own medicine, they wouldn’t need a dealer or a doctor. None has ever died from consuming cannabis, so as far as protecting the community goes, I’d say our lawmakers are either misinformed or purposely avoiding the legalization of cannabis to profit from the ban. Prisons are overpopulated in America, 137,000 people are behind bars on simple drug possession charges. It has shown that police are making more arrests over “marijuana” than all violence combined. How many lives have to be ruined over a plant before the madness of prohibition ends? How many families have to be broken apart because a parent self-medicated on a natural resource? How many children will grow up using hard drugs because they were never taught the difference between Heroin and Cannabis? According to federal law, the two substances are in the same category. This grouping is not logical. In fact, cannabis has shown tremendous benefits in the treatment of opiate addiction. Opiates kill over 30,000 people a year while cannabis has never caused a single death. Many of the treatments provided for opiate addicts today, such as methadone, are merely blocking receptors. Cannabis has been shown to “rewire” and heal the brain from trauma. The real “gateway drug” is proving to be alcohol. Legal products and over-the-counter medications kill thousands of people each year, adding to the confusion of our chemical diet. What is right? What is wrong? It’s time to wake up and see the benefits of cannabis: IT IS HARMLESS.
Let’s talk about your experience with cannabis…
I can list a dozen mental and physical issues that cannabis helps me with. I don’t believe that you have to be sick in order to demand access to nature’s resources. In the same way, you don’t need to be a minority to fight for equal rights. If more people stood up for what is right, regardless of their economic or social position, the world would progress much faster. Whether or not you use cannabis, you should support it because the movement involves much more than getting high. Even if it was about personal satisfaction: If consuming a harmless plant makes you feel better, act better, see the world in a better light, treat others better and find inspiration in what you may not have otherwise, then perhaps you too should stand up and demand access to this planet’s resource without persecution. I do not condone illegal activity, I do however insist that each and every person research their surroundings and never stop asking questions. I will continue to represent nature and the human condition with every stroke of my brush. Hoping for worldwide acceptance of mother nature.
How did you get involved with the New Hampshire Cannabis Freedom Festival?
I met Rick Naya at Dam Sam’s NY Harvest Festival in 2015. I was painting at my tent and we started talking about life and art then all of a sudden Rick runs onto the stage and tells a story about this movement. His energy and his emotion were awesome. I remember we talked for a while that night, later he asked me to participate in designing the next years’ Freedom Cup for the NH Hempfest Freedom Rally and then it was on. I attended the event, during which I painted 3 large oil landscapes and took part in a massive collaboration that involved almost ten artists. It was an inspiring weekend!
Let’s talk the logo for the New Hampshire cannabis freedom festival. It looks fantastic. How was the creative process?
Expressing someone’s vision is not hard when you see what they see, feel what they feel. The passion that Rick has for this movement to legalize cannabis has inspired me to work with him. I believe this passion has poured over me from countless brave individuals that I have had the honor of meeting and hearing at these events. Many have fought their entire lives hoping to see cannabis legalized. Many have had their lives ruined. This movement is about doing the right thing. It’s about keeping families together. It’s about saving the environment. It’s about getting medicine to people who cannot enjoy life. These issues have inspired me to do whatever I can artistically to help it gain traction. I included a gate in my design to symbolize the opening of a new age for herbal respect. I feel humble and in a sense, a part of the band when I am asked to participate in something like this. It allows me to vote in a way that few people have the ability to. It is important to love what you do in life and much of this movement is about helping others. I support the compassion of The New Hampshire Cannabis Freedom Festival!
What does the future look like for you and your art?
Currently, I have a few events in my calendar. This Friday, May 12th, I will be painting in Syracuse, NY. Joe Driscoll, a local musician, and activist are running for 5th District Councilor. A fundraiser is being thrown by musicians and artists to show support at Munjed’s, 505 Westcott St. Afterwards I am headed to Germination Festival in Harmony, Maine which will runMay 19th-21st. The line up is phenomenal, expect large collaborative projects. I have been invited to Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in June on the 8th-11th by Adam Christoferson, founder of Musical Intervention, a music program that helps vulnerable populations write, record and perform original music. Its headquarters is a drug and alcohol-free space located at 23 Temple Street in New Haven, Connecticut.We will be hosting a Pop-up recording studio and an art workshop at Bonnaroo. Also, I have been put in charge of gathering artists and curating a gallery for a new event called Yonderville Music & Arts Festival in Virginia on June 23rd-25th. It has been exciting to have people be my palette when organizing large events and projects. You cannot do it all yourself, so you must dissolve your ego and collaborate with your community. I strive to make the festival experience as educational as possible, for myself and others. I do not see it merely as a party. To me, it is a classroom. It’s exciting to meet other artists. I love putting brushes into hands that may have never taken that route. Art therapy is a real thing. I have spent most of my life on the East Coast. I have a son now with my partner Sara. We wouldn’t be opposed to moving somewhere new in Fall. We would thrive in a community of artists and musicians, Sara is classically trained on the viola. On a side note, a serious investor who could commission my next wave of large oil masterpiece paintings would be great. I am open to new projects all the time. Email me at: YegorMikushkin@gmail.com