On Grief and Art

David All
3 min readOct 2, 2023

Art can be an expression of grief; a source of inspiration and a glimpse at healing.

I still remember buying my first physical painting from a dear friend. I remember going to meet the artist in his studio. And hearing his story.

I was moved by his courage to create a powerful and personal expression of his struggle to overcome a darkness he experienced in life. I felt the pain rattle my bones, then and now.

Today I realize I was a boy standing before a man grieving through art. And sharing with me a part of his grieving process through his story. He made beauty from pain. This was art.

✨✨✨

Not all artists create art tethered to their personal story. Not all art needs to take us back into our belly of the beast.

But I have met many artists that do.

They create art to courageously express so others feel a part of life that might otherwise go unnoticed, be unwanted, deflected or too often soothed away.

Their personal struggles are not abnormal or even rare, rather the human condition. What can be rare, unique and special is when another connects to the pattern and sees their own story staring back at them through an artwork.

An artwork can connect us to a part of our own life story that feels like a missing piece of who we are.

And when the artist’s story is a part of the moment, we gain a stepping stone back into those periods in life. It’s a glimpse into something we know to be true.

Something too scary to face alone. But fortunately, we didn’t have to go there.

✨✨✨

I am aged 44. With every bone in my body I know that for me, returning to these parts in my story has not been easy. And that is despite having a deep desire and intention to learn who I am and what makes me tick.

During lockdown I had the privilege to isolate in an old growth forest where I found two things, space and time. I grieved in my own way.

It was in those days that I grieved for the boy I had been. Grieved for the man I am. Grieved for my father and step-father. Grieved for those who will never have the space to grieve.

Out there I didn’t have art or access to the artist community. I had books, poems, songs and like I said, space and time.

My grieving restored me. To grieve was to go back on my own and viscerally feel it all again. Going back provided a new vantage point. I was laughing and smiling as much as I was crying.

Grief made me feel alive. Grieving helped me heal wounds that I had been ignoring.

I’ve talked with a handful of men about grief. My podcast has been a research project in some ways into grief. I’ve listened to hundreds of artists talk about their artworks.

I believe art created as an intentional act of grief can provide a source or inspiration for healing others.

✨✨✨

When I emerged from the woods I stood up as a new man.

And I know that grieving is not just normal, but necessary to truly change your life. To heal. To grow through it. Art can be a stepping stone toward personal healing.

As my friend

says, “You have to go through it, to grow through it.”

--

--

David All

Changemaker. Storyteller. Web3 Leader, Web2 Pioneer. Founder and CEO of FOUND3R & Change.Gallery by ChangeDAO