Like many artists, Mandala has her inspirations, and in the spirit of collaborating with Veritas, cannabis has served as both an influence in her personal and artistic life.
With slope season in full swing and resort towns reporting pre-pandemic visitor numbers, skiers and snowboarders are showing off their gear of many different designs. One manufacturer hoping to catch the attention of mountain-goers is Colorado cannabis company Veritas, whose annual Icelantic ski giveaway has been active since the beginning of the 2021-2022 season. For this season, Veritas has been working with local Boulder artist Morgan Mandala.
Mandala, who can normally be found doing live painting events at various locations including Red Rocks, was more than up to the task of working with Veritas. “I was excited,” she said of the collaboration. “I’ve always wanted to make a pair of skis.” Mandala’s artwork caught the awe of the people at Veritas, including Sarah Egener, the company’s art director. Egener considered Mandala’s artistic approach a perfect fit for the Icelantic line and Veritas’ consumers. “With Morgan’s landscapes and beautiful colors, to cannabis consumers, that’s a beautiful thing to look at,” she said. Egener expressed the importance of Veritas staying local with the artists with whom they choose to collaborate to help spread their brand, and especially Mandala’s artistry met that criteria. “She definitely has a great Colorado vibe, and something that’s very important to us pushing that vibe,” she said. “Skiing is huge here in Colorado. It’s really fun to see that art on the skis, with people in lift lines, and the topic of conversation. With Morgan’s art on them, it just really pushes the Veritas brand.” One look at Mandala’s art, and the viewer is transported into another dimension. Painting in a variety of ways, she prefers to not go by a specific term for her art. Nonetheless, she has a predilection for utilizing abstract and geometric elements, merging different realms together to create a surreal, hypnotic look to break down different representations of reality. It all starts with her namesake configuration. “All these geometries, when you break down reality, you see what they are at their smallest bits,” she said. “Thinking about all the things we see around us on a molecular level, how all the things and people you see are connected inherently in some way, that’s kind of represented by this mandala form that begins at one point. It spreads out into this multiplicity of the universe.”
Egener concurs, associating Mandala’s approach to the experience of cannabis and its social and health aspects. “Cannabis really brings people together,” she said. “The visionary aspects of what Morgan talks about goes with the medicinal aspect of cannabis, and that’s really important to us as well.” Like many artists, Mandala has her inspirations, and in the spirit of collaborating with Veritas, cannabis has served as both an influence in her personal and artistic life. In preparing to create a new painting, she likes to do some cleaning around the house, light up some incense, and then use cannabis to establish a creative space. “It just puts me in a nice creative mindset,” she said. “When I’m ready to dive into a long studio session, I’ll smoke a bowl to set the space.”
When approached by Veritas for this season’s Icelantic ski line, Mandala found it to initially be a challenge, but was more than excited to tackle it, even with a limited time frame. “It was a pretty quick process,” she said. “ It was like two weeks or something when they initially contacted me to make the painting to get the files.” Timing may have seemed like an issue, as what would usually take Mandala up to six months to do was required to be delivered in two weeks. But even with a faster pace the process took, she and those at Veritas were more than pleased with the final result. “We were all pretty psyched with how they turned out,” Mandala said. Despite having to design quickly, Mandala enthusiastically took on the project. She immediately made a number of different sketches, with a particular framework in mind. “I knew that I’d probably have to make a six-foot tall painting about two feet wide or less,” she said. Of Icelantic’s line, she elaborated: “They are wide skis, so it gives you some range, but most of the painting will get cut off. “I pretty much made the painting the same way I would’ve, and changes came in the end when you're dealing with different people and their ideas of the skis in the end.”
In keeping with Veritas’ mission to remain local in collaboration and appeal, the design was a way for Mandala to create a tribute to Colorado’s famous mountain culture, and stay true to the vision of Veritas as well. “Working with Veritas and Icelatinc, I really wanted to feel like a full Colorado ski,” she said. “I wanted to have it something different from what Icelantic normally has, and really involve Veritas, a little bit of their color scheme.” The particular mountain in the design is perhaps the ultimate tribute to Colorado mountain culture. “The mountain in the piece is actually in Telluride, it’s like one of the most filmed mountains for people to ski down,” she said. “So I wanted it to be like an epic Colorado mountain, and kind of give off that vibe.”