Q & A: Isabela Escobar
Originally from Columbia, now residing in Miami, Florida - Isabela studied visual arts at the Miami Art Institute. We loved collaborating with Isabela to create visual representations of women in different situational vibe’s and feelings we felt we’re just right.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your art?
My name is Isabela Escobar- I am a Colombian Artist that has been based in Miami, FL for the past four years. I went to school at the Miami Art Institute where I studied Visual Arts.
My format of choice is illustration working with a mix of traditional and digital techniques. I start on paper, then eventually bring it onto the computer.
Inspired by myth, nature and the human figure, I take the female form and combine it with fantastical creatures of other realms creating a juxtaposition of the soft feminine with the savage wild. The "Beast" imagery is prevalent in all my work; it represents both a form of liberation and empowerment as well as a sense that our feral essences are waiting for us to give up control.
What is your take on the rise of the cannabis industry?
I have to say I’m kind of torn. The rise of the industry has helped the general public gain access to the medical benefits, both physical and psychological, that the cannabis plant (that been in use by humanity for centuries) can offer. On the other side of the coin, it’s a little strange to have the government taxing a plant with ancestral healing capabilities, but I guess that if it wasn’t for government regulation we wouldn’t have such amazing access to high quality products for patients that really need it. I can’t deny that the pros are heavier than the cons though.
How do you think cannabis can empower women and/or our society as a whole?
Women who smoke weed have been considered rebels, seen as an archetype of the “Free Spirit”, unruly manic pixies with no sense of shame. But the stoner is “trashy and unmotivated” and that is inherently unfeminine, according to society.
It always amuses me when you tell a man that you smoke and his reaction is surprise: “You smoke weed?”, as if there is some sort of unspoken taboo behind it, as if female doesn’t mix with marihuana. Marihuana is female –Lady Ganja– and women have been using her to relieve their aliments since the beginning of time.
In the same paradigm as being labeled witches, women have been judged and outright condemned for smoking marihuana– as well as for the use of many other psychoactive herbs and plants and fungi– to attain certain mental states.
Recently, society has seen some very significant changes in its perception of weed itself, so the stereotype is quickly shifting. Smoking weed, for women, is a symbol for mental liberation; freedom of thought to form their own opinions and make their own decisions. It is a connection to their ancestry. It is ancient medicine, a tool for meditation, a way to relax the mind. In that way weed liberates us- it connects us again with the struggles of the witches they hunted, of the healers they killed and of the rebels they silenced. It is our natural right to use it and to enjoy it.
Has cannabis affected your life in some way? If so, how?
I have to say, I’m a light user. In my late teens and early twenties I used to smoke heavily, but nowadays I mostly just use CBD based products. If I do toke up, it’s very occasional. It’s when I don’t have any pressing responsibilities, and that’s usually on a lazy Sunday afternoon by the beach or watching a movie.
Cannabis has never been taboo within my family. Excessive usage, of course, is discouraged, but casual use with consciousness has never been shunned. I was lucky to be born to a couple of flower children who lived the peak of their youth in the 1970’s, and they happened to be in the longer-haired side of society. Instead of hiding it, they always educated me and let me make up my own mind about things.
I’m a huge advocate for cannabis’ mental and physical benefits; I use it to manage anxiousness, when I have trouble sleeping, and for some knee pain I get once In a while because of a surgery I had about 15 years ago. I consider it medicine, as well as having amazing mood boosting qualities, but I know that it isn’t for everyone. I truly don’t see anything wrong with its use.
How do you think we can change the stigma of cannabis?
Society is already taking steps in the right direction. From the time when I was a teen in the early 2000’s to today, I can see an unbelievable shift in the mindset of the general public. People are way more open-minded about experimenting with cannabis in their later years. Now we have 40 and 50 years old trying out the medical benefits of cannabis, which they probably would’ve never done before, and it is because decriminalization, legalization and the shift of perspective as a whole.
I believe that the first step of destigmatizing cannabis is to stop seeing it as a drug and start thinking of it as a tool. The future is holistic healing, this is proven with each new study done on the cannabis plant– every time, a new array of benefits and significant effects get confirmed.
Another important point is education. There are a lot of myths surrounding the use of weed, and the people who use it. We need to inform people about how to use weed correctly for their specific needs, which might be very different from those of another individual.
Now with more public figures and role models speaking openly about their marihuana habits, being a “stoner” is more destigmatized than ever, proving that casual marijuana usage has no real harmful effects and doesn’t interfere with the productivity of these well-known members of society.
In my opinion, the next step towards progress is the decriminalization for recreational usage. People don’t deserve to be treated like criminals for smoking some pot. It really doesn’t hurt anyone.
You can follow Isabela and her artwork @isabelaescobart