Affinity in the Tall Grasses of California

Exhibition organized for the International Museum of Surgical Science, on view there from November 15, 2016 – February 26, 2017, featuring work by Whit Forrester.

header image: Whit Forrester, “Cannabis Drying in the Trim Room with Halloween Leftovers,” Photograph (2012)


about the exhibition
California Proposition 215, alternatively known as the Compassionate Care Act of 1996, is a California State Law which allows the medical use of the psychoactive plant cannabis, or marijuana, despite Federal prohibitions on its consumption. Prop 215 was spearheaded by Marijuana Activist Dennis Peron in memory of his late partner Jonathan West, who like many had used cannabis to relieve symptoms of HIV/AIDS infection, as well as the debilitating side effects of existing treatments for the disease. Conceived in the crucible of the AIDS Crisis, and alongside emerging studies regarding the efficacy of cannabis in relieving symptoms of cancer treatment, the Compassionate Care Act has remained a central piece of legislation in what is now the vast architecture of cannabis production and consumption in the state of California.

from left to right: Whit Forrester, “Untitled [Piles No.2]” Photograph (2013); Whit Forrester, “Interview with Ace, and Valerie Leveroni Corral – Director of ‘Wo/men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana’ (WAMM),” Video (2016)

Artist Whit Forrester has been photographing life and work on California’s medical cannabis farms since 2011. A number of the photographs presented in this exhibition were shot at an LGBTQ owned and operated farm upstate – an assertion that despite its increasingly industrialized and commercialized place in the California economy, the plant remains cultivated by the community that had fought to make its therapeutic use protected by law. The photographs intentionally obscure the identity of any subjects that might appear in frame to protect those who participate in cannabis cultivation while it is still illegal under Federal Law.

Whit Forrester, “The Best We Can Do For Now,” Photograph (2013)