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© 2017 MERRY JANE. All Rights Reserved.

Artist sPOTlight: Alex Grey

This is your brain on drugs.

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Alex Grey is more than a visionary artist - he's delved into the deconstruction of the ego—a realm that can only be explored with the guidance from entheogens like cannabis. Grey has risen beyond the role of an artist—he's a spiritual leader, teacher and keeper of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors.

As a child, Alex Grey reportedly collected and studied insects and dead animals. Later on in life Alex would work in the Anatomy department at Harvard Medical School under Dr. Herbert Benson where he helped prepare cadavers for dissection. These events would play an important role in Alex Grey's psyche.

In the '70s Alex Grey frequently dropped acid with his wife and artist Allyson Rymland Grey. In 1979, Grey began a decade-long journey exploring the human anatomy in a cosmic context. The Sacred Mirrors, his collection of 21 life-sized paintings, is considered one of his finest works. TIME, Newsweek, and The Discovery Channel have all paid tribute to the life's work of Alex Grey.

During Grey's height of fame, he was painting album art for Nirvana, Tool, the Beastie Boys and others. Grey's painting, “Net of Being” was chosen as the cover of Tool's triple-platinum album, 10,000 Days. Grey's art can frequently be found on sheets of blotter acid.

Grey's frequent choice of oil on wood as a medium creates unexpectedly saturated color. He frequently personifies inanimate objects such as electrically-charged stalks of cannabis. The whole of each piece seems to breathe organically.

Grey's painting “Cannabia” in 1995 would begin years of art contributions to the High Times Cannabis Cup. “...I’ve shown the cannabis Goddess, Cannabia, surrounded by an aura of flames emitting smoke," Grey stated. “Her hair is lush female sinsemilla buds, and her body is covered with the plant stalks, stems and green leaves. Her two mundane eyes are closed, the third 'divine' eye on her forehead is open, revealing a world of fantastic and spiritual vision. To kiss her is to become intoxicated with her and turned on to one’s own fertile imagination. She holds a flaming marijuana leaf as the heart offering of the earth mother, a gift of sensuous pleasure and mystical insight.” The piece “Cannabacchus” (below) could be considered Cannabia's bearded counterpart.

Grey's art has attracted the likes of reknowned spiritual leaders including Deepak Choprah. For several years, the Watkins Review has named Alex Grey one of the “Most Spiritually Influential Living People”, joining the ranks of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Eckhardt Tolle. Alex Grey was featured on Karuna, a collection of music from Burma, which was released March 1. Karuna means “compassion” in Sanskrit. In the album, Grey recites an excerpt from his book, Art Psalms, and it's accompanied by a shamanic flute.

Grey founded the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, CoSM, in 1996, with his wife. CoSM is an art sanctuary in upstate New York. CoSM hosts a variety of artist workshops and events. The site boasts a labyrinth, altars, murals and a reflecting pond among other things. Are you a visionary artist yourself? Grey will be accepting applications for The Visionary Painting Intensive 2016, a vigorous course in visionary art. Upon presentation, only the best aspiring artists will be accepted.