Our friend Denny Griffith’s last words to me were “You have to give yourself permission.”
Denny, a beloved artist and leader in the Columbus community and beyond died in 2016 at an unfair young age from an aggressive cancer. He painted to the end, in fact created an astonishing oeuvre to cap his career. You can see in this film how playful, joyful, irreverent, and wise he was in the making of this work even in the face of his own sickness.
I was with him and his family and I mentioned I was beginning to make some new work after all these years yet felt trepidation. He gently intoned, “You have to give yourself permission.” At the time I smiled and blithely agreed and thanked him for that thought – but in truth it has taken over a year to come to understand what he meant.
As artists, I propose we have to give ourselves permission to enjoy what we’re doing, to go forward with all the skill and craft we can muster and keep at it, to love the liver of it, to love the smell of the paint as Klee (I believe) said, to take delight in this dab of red, or that moment of motion, to take delight in the ideas and themes and gestures as they bubble up and form, to really just love the work and the act of working and keep at it.
Self-doubt isn’t humble; waiting for someone else to give us permission just keeps us waiting, sucking the air out of the potential. No one is going to come and free us, so we have to give ourselves permission to get up, go out, and work with a fury, a giggle, and good faith. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about us. Audience wants to engage with the work and find themselves, so I say to myself – get out of the way and enjoy the ride. Thank you, Denny.
Read more from back entries:
Blog #7 The Gift Project Reveal
Blog #6 Recycling clothing
Blog #5 What we wore
Blog #4 I Spy game – what’s in this show
Blog #3 The Linen Closet anatomy of making
Blog #2 Working with Director Robert Post
Blog #1 Five weeks to go
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