Local Artist Creates and Inspires at Golden Belt

By Katie Godwin
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

Artist and long-time educator Helen Griffin inspires others through her artwork and her desire to see others succeed.

Griffin, a longtime Durham resident who studied at the University of Iowa, taught art in Durham public schools for more than 25 years. She recently retired to become a full-time artist.

Helen Griffin and Robert Talley share their space at Studio 123 in Golden Belt. (Staff photo by Katie Godwin)

Last October, Griffin spearheaded the exhibit, Homegrown/Under 35 which featured the works of 16 young students that have been educated in the DPS system.

She spent long hours selecting work of her former students to put on display.

“She worked very hard for her students,” said Harlan Campbell, a former student. “She made sure that our work was seen.” Campbell credits Griffin for his interest in art.  He also credits her for pushing and challenging him to become the artist that he is today.

He is thankful that she motivated him and other students to go to college to pursue their dreams and aspirations.

“As a teacher, she was challenging and hard, but she pushed us to our full potential,” he said. Campbell has even invited Griffin to his wedding.

Griffin specializes in everything from printing and carving to drawing. She has also created with her own slogan political pins, shirt and posters.

Griffin, who supports Barack Obama, has been very vocal about the upcoming election. Her merchandise is being sold at Vaguely Reminiscent, a store in downtown Durham.

Griffin works at the Craven Allen Gallery and Studio 123 in Golden Belt. She acquired the space in Studio 123 after being chosen for the 2011-2012 Durham Art Guild Golden Belt Artist-in Residence.

“There is a high level of commitment in here. I’m just grateful to be surrounded in a wonderful supportive creative mix of people,” said Griffin.

Besides creating an exhibit for her students, Griffin decided to share her studio space with Robert Talley, another former student. She invited him to share her Golden Belt space last March.

“I am also proud of her, she has helped me out tremendously along the way,” said Talley. “Ms. Griffin taught me to not be afraid of doing the art that represent me as a person.”

Talley credits Griffin with inspiring him to create his own color pencil technique.

“She is so giving. She lets us come anytime during the week to her space and work on projects that inspire us,” said another former student, Jermario Crouch.

Griffin’s work along with other artists can be seen by stopping by the studio or at the Golden Belt Third Friday events. This month’s event will be on Oct. 19.