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The Queen of Cannabis Activist Art

Savina Monet Cannabis Activist Art

In The Magazine

The Queen of Cannabis Activist Art

ARTWORK Savina Monet

The Queen of Cannabis Activist Art

Savina Monet’s vivid, Technicolor collage work is inspired by her mother and a love of teaching.

When it comes to the effortless blend of art and activism in Savina Monet’s work, it’s hard for her to say which came first. It’s a chicken-egg conundrum that combines her mother’s ingenuity and fortitude with her own go-getter attitude that inspired her artistic career path. 

“My mom was really creative when I was growing up,” the Portland-based Monet said. “Whatever we didn’t have, we would make. From a young age, I learned how to put things together with whatever I could get from salvaged materials and whatever else I could find. In a way, my artwork became a chance for me to channel my upbringing and start a conversation about cannabis to continue to normalize the plant.”

It makes sense that Monet is passionate about collaging, a technique that creates one cohesive piece of work from an assemblage of seemingly unrelated materials such as pictures, paper clippings and fabric scraps. She’s found a way to digitally continue the tradition of her childhood by pulling inspiration from different places to create eye-catching designs. The self-taught graphic designer and artist uses her work to draw viewers into her world of whimsy, weed and wonder — with built-in political undertones calling out the stigma that still surrounds cannabis. 

“I moved to Portland right around when the adult market was legalized,” Monet said. “It was a really weird place to be where a small bubble of Oregon was celebrating, but outside of Portland there was still a really big stigma around cannabis use. It really seemed like my artwork was needed at that time.”

Savina Monet
Ridin’ High (L), Focus (R).

Vintage, Yet Modern 

At a quick glance, Monet’s Technicolor work is a feast for minimalists who love lush and uncomplicated art. But a closer look draws you into the details and the message. Retro beauties elegantly puff on joints; icons such as Spike Lee and Eartha Kitt are juxtaposed with cannabis fan leaves; and dense buds playfully replace objects ranging from funky hairstyles to broomsticks for weed-wielding witches. This subtlety is intentional—it’s Monet’s way of giving people a gentle step toward normalizing cannabis use. 

“I’m a big fan of exposure therapy where you’re encouraged to just face the thing you’re avoiding so you can become desensitized to it,” Monet says with a smile. 

Her art has an undeniable vintage vibe that also embodies a modern twist that ensures the cannabis plant is the main message—even if it’s not always front and center. 

“My work is for people who are uncomfortable with weed,” the talented artist says. “I do a good job of blending cannabis into my work, so it may almost feel like it’s hidden. Someone who may be against weed might like a particular work, and when they look a little harder, then realize there’s weed featured in it.”

She said these exact kinds of moments have led to interesting conversations where she’s had the opportunity to educate people who weren’t open-minded about cannabis. She sees these interactions as fun social experiments where her art becomes a teaching platform.

Savina Monet
The Offering (L), Tiger Style (R).

Relax, It’s Art

Monet lets it be widely known that her work is a significant part of her activism advocating for cannabis. “I’ve always been an outspoken person when it comes to cannabis, but since working in the industry, I’ve been inspired to learn more about our collective civic duty and to better understand the law,” Monet said.

As co-founder of the Cannabis Workers Coalition and We Are MOTA (Minorities for Opportunity, Transparency & Accountability in Cannabis), Monet champions fair labor practices in the cannabis and hemp industries. “Around the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of uncertainty and confusion,” she said. “Workers were afraid of getting sick or losing their jobs, so it seemed like the right time to unify the voice of the labor movement in cannabis.”

Both of her organizations have the goal of building an equitable, inclusive future for people of color within the industry. The energy Monet puts into her activism has clearly inspired her recent creations. Because she puts so much intense focus into strategizing and organizing on her civic agenda, Monet said her work has become even more chill to balance out the high energy. Her art has always been a pleasant escape from reality, but more than ever, she’s using it as a way to relax and create a separate space from her activist work. 

Savina Monet
Brown Pride (L), artist Savina Monet takes a puff (R).

The steady pace hasn’t stopped Monet from fine-tuning her plans for the future. Since working in the cannabis industry, she’s seen her workload grow tenfold with the ever-evolving relationship between society and weed. As views, opinions and access to information continue to shift, she hopes to see the scope of her work expand to larger projects. 

“I’d love to start doing more murals and even have my work in dispensaries,” Monet says. “I really want to show more of my artistic side. You know, it still feels a little funny calling myself an artist —but I’m ready to explore that and take my work to another level.”

This story was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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