Live blog, TEDxColumbus

Denny Griffith – Live Blog

2011 TEDxColumbus


Welcome to TEDxColumbus! Today’s first speaker is Denny Griffith, who, appropriately enough, talked all about how he gets inspired. His talk will set the stage for a day that will hopefully give all of the attendees something to get inspired by.

But first: Denny Griffith. He’s an administrator by day but an artist by night. He’s a networker, talking with other administrators and personell during the day. But by night he explores his introverted and sensitive artist side.

The two might seem in conflict, but Griffith is here to tell us that, if you are driven by what inspires you, you can find the balance and sense of place you need.

Griffith gave some examples of people that have been able to channel those inspirations into divided but harmonized personas: a teacher who plays in a bluegrass band, or a tattooed surgeon. Then he talked about his own private persona, the artist. His talk was a journey through what inspires him and how he stays balanced.

The most surprising thing that Griffith says inspired him is leukemia. He lost his dad to the disease, and in that difficult time, that’s when he saw the beauty and the terror in some aspects of the natural world. He saw the beauty in leukemia.

The resulting paintings, inspired by terrible diseases and strange cells seen under a microscope, are, as he describes them, “joyful.” And he’s right: they’re filled with bright colors and loose shapes. Artists often are inspired by the sad or difficult things they experience, and Griffith has translated some of that into something more exuberant than a brooding existential approach might yield.

Griffith was next inspired by something more global, less personal, and decidedly larger: galaxies. He noticed that the shapes of galaxies and the shapes of microbes or diseases are similar. He saw these shapes and textures all over the natural world.

And finally, Griffith has harnessed his root abstract explorations of nature to try to explore current events and the people that they impact. He’s done paintings about the recent tornados, hurricanes, and tsunamis. They’re improvised, abstract meditations on the shapes of these events, often looping and loose shapes that are more celebratory of the complexness of the world than lamentations for the world’s sadness.

Inspiration, Griffith notes, is closely tied to what makes people happy. If you are inspired, you can find your happiness. And it’s interesting to see how these sad or tragic events can inspire what amount to pretty happy artistic explorations.

Finally, Griffith spoke about how Columbus inspires him. He says it’s a city that’s big enough that it has an impact on a large scale, but small enough that anyone can impact their community directly.

That’s a pretty good message to get us started. Because all of TEDxColumbus’s speakers are hoping to inspire and be inspired today. They all hope to expose something great and inspiring to this community and to let us use these inspirations to get the balance right in our lives between our interior selves and the exterior world in which we live.

Here’s to a day of inspiration!