To Art, To Smoke, To Be Black
By: DM BLUNTED
Spring has officially sprung, but that doesn’t mean the heavy greys of winter are done with us quite yet. Which, in my humble opinion, is pretty annoying, especially considering that I’ve been trying to shake the winter blues since like early November. But in the words of Drake, started from the bottom now I’m kind of here. With the help of art and fat blunts, I filled my space with pictures and paintings that remind me that I’m home; that I’m welcome and meant to enjoy this space. Everywhere I look there is a piece of me-- whether that be a watercolor, a paper mache pig head, my weavings, my words, my paint strokes.
No, I’m not Picasso. And no, I didn’t have rich white parents to pay my way into some prestigious art school. In spite of this, I can indulge in some recreational painting when I’m getting blewed out. In fact, that’s why I think painting is best paired with a blunt for me. I’m an over-thinker and way too caring of what others may think of me. I’ll stop myself before I start - too scared to make mistakes. But like for many, smoking cannabis helps me relax, step outside of my anxious box, and see what the world has to offer me. Which is amazing, because when we look at art we enjoy, our brains release dopamine, boosting our mood with pleasure and positivity. While creating art strengthens our fine motor skills and problem-solving abilities, it also improves our communication and relieves stress. As an advocate for black mental-health, alternative health practices like using cannabis and practicing art can be extremely relaxing and therapeutic - but both aren’t marketed for our communitiy.
Beyond the anxiety of starting something new, a major reason why I was never interested in art in the first place was because no one ever told me I could be. For the longest time, I thought the arts were for white people who called themselves “hipsters,” not for black girls. It was something that I saw as extremely pretentious and not my scene. And while I used my writing abilities to skate through English classes, no teacher or parent took the time to nurture and encourage the potential I showed. In fact, it wasn’t until I dropped out of college that someone gave me the encouragement and validation that my thoughts, words, and writings mattered. That I could polish and refine my talent, to find my own unique voice.
It’s always distressing to think of all the time I’ve lost being scared to write or paint for the first time. But what’s even more distressing is thinking of all the Black girls and Womxn out there who are still in the same place I was a few years ago. Talents unnurtured, potentials untapped and unknowing of any black artists that make them feel proud and represented. This hurts me to my core because I know we deserve the freedom and self-care that comes from art, just as much as our white counterparts. We deserve to indulge in a smoke, create and make a living off of it or just do it for the peace of mind.
The ability to create what I wanted, how I wanted is what solidified my attraction to writing and watercolor. I’m naturally a messy and sporadic person, and watercolor is a medium that allows me to mix and bleed colors together to form a unique and beautiful picture. I get lost in my rants, speak straight from my consciousness and forget what I said - writing helps me remember it all. To put a memory, an idea or whatever on paper is letting go for me, there is no peace like it.
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