Hemp has been used throughout history as a canvas for many artworks, though these days it’s not so common to find any artwork involving hemp as a material or an issue. However there are artists like Wonder Knack an American based designer and photographer who uses his creativity and skills in an attempt to “cut away the stigma that has been placed on hemp for many years”. Knack has produced a series of pieces that address environmental concerns such as the increasing toxicity in our environment, and the need for hemp as an available resource. Two projects in particular, “Hemp: Realize It” and “Industrial Hemp $” are conveying a very similar message to the one I hope to address through my practice. Knack has made these pieces in particular freely available to download and encourages people to do so, as well as print and share them around, in a hope that it will raise awareness and educate people to this incredibly useful, naturally forming, sustainable resource. He also invites us to look at the role industrial hemp has played throughout history and how it has helped with the development of mankind so that we can see how much it has to offer and even requests that we educate ourselves with the facts of the situation, to start a dialog and ask questions in an effort to help ourselves and others to learn about this valuable renewable resource and how it can be utilized in a sustainable future. His approach to this issue is clearly evidence that he too sees this as a resource that we need to recognize. He is not doing this for his own benefit but to raise awareness for this resource and break it away from its negative connotations and allow it to take back its own identity in the hope that it will be recognized so that it may benefit others and eventually all of us. He states with his work that “Hemp has carried humans through the ages and deserves an identity and future based on reality. Farmers in America and worldwide deserve to continue this symbiotic relationship that is as old as agriculture itself.” His choice of language conveys a belief, that of which I agree with, that Hemp has been unfairly represented in modern society and we need to acknowledge it for what it could be: a beneficial resource to agriculture that we deserve to have available to us.

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(Above: Industrial Hemp $ )

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(Above: Hemp: Realize it.)

Another artist who has used hemp as a context for their work is Kasia Ozga whose project “Protection” which uses lengths of hemp rope connected at either end to sculpted human hands cast in transparent resin, produced so that the work at once protects and obstructs anything that it is connected to. This piece is particularly interesting, as although it shows no resounding effort to support hemp as a resource and she does not identify this as a reason for the project, by using hemp rope to make the piece and by wrapping the finished product around trees she has, perhaps unconsciously, made a link between the two; that by utilising hemp as resource we are in fact protecting the trees around us.

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(above: Protection)

(NOTE:  Following on from this I may discuss the anti cannabis propaganda of the 20th century that led our society to have these negative views on hemp/cannabis as a whole. Although I may discuss the work of Finnish artists who installed the hemp made Bird hangar in Japan (http://inhabitat.com/bird-hangar-a-poetic-public-installation-designed-for-blowing-vegetable-seeds-around-japan/), taking the approach of looking at hemp in terms of design.)

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