With legalization, cannabis experiences are multiplying with lightning speed. High culture cannabis events are creating a new cannabis scene with a distinctly New York vibe. First, there was Happy Munkey’s art-and-cannabis extravaganza at the Van Gogh show. But the newest high culture cannabis event is The Stone Age NYC. This exhibition is a gorgeous interaction of art, cannabis, and activism that’s right off art gallery row in Chelsea.
Don’t expect Stoner Stereotypes
Regardless of its name, don’t expect stoner stereotypes. This immersive art installation showcases both the plant’s delights and the destructiveness of its prohibition in BIPOC communities. Sasha Perelman and Liz Santana are the driving forces behind The Stone Age NYC. In it, they’ve created one of the most moving explorations of the plant that we’ve ever seen. That’s no surprise. Because this isn’t their first time around the event block. Liz is a seasoned producer who’s created programming for heavy hitters like Netflix and Disney. And Sasha produced her first cannabis experience in 2017. It was such a hit that Rolling Stone dubbed it “the best pot party in California.”
So, if you’re in NYC this fall, have a smoke or pop an edible. Then head to this must-see show. But first, read on to get all the behind-the-scenes details from Sasha herself.
What was your inspiration for creating a cannabis experience like The Stone Age NYC?
NYC is the epicenter of the world. It’s the melting pot of cultures, art, fashion, business, theatre, and more. With the announcement of cannabis legalization, creating our flagship in New York is divine timing. It’s an opportunity to educate mainstream audiences and build up conscious consumption.
The Stone Age NYC focuses on 7 states of being—enlightenment, pain, awareness, euphoria, arousal, creativity, and mindfulness. Talk to us about how that plays out.
Regardless of your relationship to cannabis, we can all relate to these 7 states of being as foundations of the human condition. So we focused this cannabis experience on them. We also wove in cannabis education and drew on the intersections between them all.
This section of our cannabis experience acknowledges the plant’s role as a psychoactive substance. It can expand consciousness and support spiritual growth. Participants step off of busy NYC streets. Then we guide them through a heightening of their senses and their self-awareness.
This part of the installation explores the dynamic interaction of sex and cannabis. Those are two commonly stigmatized topics. The artists explored these often difficult conversations through 4 stages of arousal. Those stages include anticipation, excitement, plateau, and orgasm. Each stage of our arousal activation draws on the parallels between cannabis and sex.
This part of our cannabis experience highlights the plant’s ability to cultivate creativity and help us express new ideas. That includes how to discover, interpret, and perceive new ways of thinking. Historically, cannabis has complemented inspiration and ingenuity. So The Stone Age NYC encourages visitors to be imaginative and carefree as they play with our creativity activations.
This section showcases the euphoric high you can get from THC. That starts with how THC floods the body with feel-good dopamine. Guests step inside a vortex of crystal energy that immerses them in a new age of cannabis culture and plant-based wellness.
This part of the installation examines the role that cannabis has in practicing mindfulness. Cannabis can support the synergy of the body, brain, and spirit into blissful alignment. As visitors absorb this section, we prompt them to choose their favorite way to practice mindfulness. That includes journaling, visualization, and practicing gratitude.
Our Pain section starts with a commentary on the role of Big Pharma in the opioid crisis. The installation leads visitors through a hazy maze that simulates the highs and lows of opioid addiction. We also provide information about what cannabis has to offer instead. We’ve defined that in terms of pain relief and how it might relieve the symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
The Stone Age NYC is working in partnership with The Last Prisoner Project. LPP is a nonprofit coalition that’s dedicated to bringing restorative justice to the cannabis industry. This awareness aspect of our cannabis experience features thoughtful call-to-action integrations. They’re meant to promote the visibility of social justice reform and community engagement. We aim to educate visitors on the sweeping effects of The War on Drugs and the prison industrial complex it fostered. Specifically, it examines the role that cannabis prohibition has played in mass incarceration for communities of color. Viewers are drawn through art and poetry. We commissioned them from currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. Along with these works, there’s a timeline of the War on Drugs. Visitors are able to scan QR codes that provide resources for signing petitions, making donations, and reading educational material for real-time calls-to-action.
Tell us more about your partnership with the Last Prisoner Project
We value the work Last Prisoner Project is doing as a national non-profit. They bring awareness and resources to those impacted by the War on Drugs. When you’re creating an experience centered around cannabis, it’s so important to bring the conversation about social justice and racial injustice to the table. Tens of millions of people have been arrested for cannabis. 40,000 people still sit in prisons around the country for it. We want to ensure that people know these astonishing statistics. We also want them to know how they can support efforts to free every victim of the War on Drugs.
Why art and cannabis?
There are many reasons. Cannabis has been used as a creative catalyst for centuries. It can expand our minds, enhance our senses, and deepen our perspective. Art is also integral to NYC. It’s the art world capital of the world. This city is home to renowned museums, galleries, and a vibrant street art scene. We’ve been very fortunate to partner with extraordinary local artists to create one-of-a-kind pieces throughout the space.
What’s your favorite part of the cannabis experience you’ve created?
We’re not allowed to pick favorites. Because we love all our kids equally! The experience as a whole is truly remarkable. It’s informative, thought-provoking, unique, and truly transformative.
How would you like to see New Yorkers’ relationships with cannabis change after they experience The Stone Age NYC?
We’re hopeful that attendees walk away feeling more empowered, informed, and inspired. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a cannabis consumer or not. The experience is so multi-dimensional that there’s something for everyone.
Edibles or inhalants?
Depends on the activity. But I’m definitely having a love affair with edibles!
Why did you make the switch from corporate events to work with controversial industries like cannabis?
Because cannabis helps enhance the quality of people’s lives. It’s a catalyst for profound conversations. These are the kinds of discussions we should be having on a much larger scale.
The Stone Age NYC includes work made by wonderful artists, like Distort (a personal fave for us)—how did you decide which artists to include?
Our creative director, Anna Sibel, was instrumental in corralling the perfect army of artists (including Distort). She’s been working with us since we started conceptualizing the experience. She was also really instrumental in identifying the right artists for each space.
What’s your endgame when you’re creating a cannabis experience?
There is no endgame. We intend to keep growing. That includes cultivating community as well as redefining old narratives and stereotypes. Most importantly, we intend to keep enhancing the quality of people’s lives through plant wellness.
How can people get tickets to and learn about special events at The Stone Age NYC?
Come check us out if you’re in NYC. 607 6th Avenue. The show will be on until the end of November…maybe longer. 🙂 We’re also on IG @welcomethestoneage and online at thestoneagenyc.com. If you’re not in New York, look for us in cities near you in 2022!
Header image courtesy of Johnny Nunez.