What started out as a supportive trait to help a young boy cope with his high emotional sensitivity and strong empathy, my ability to pretend to be whoever I thought was called for in any given situation became a favorite crutch that I leaned on as I grew into adulthood without ever learning to be truly vulnerable. In order to keep myself safe from even being tempted to practice vulnerability, I developed a belief that I was incapable of any creative or artistic expression.
Far from keeping me safe, with this inauthenticity I had built the walls of my own prison cell and by denying my creativity I had placed a harsh jailer to keep watch. Brene Brown says that creativity denied is not benign but can be absolutely toxic to the soul (my paraphrase), and after a cyclone of pain wreaked a path of destroyed relationships through my life I understand what that toxicity can do. At 35, I found myself standing in the wreckage of my life determined to live authentically, without a clue as to what that looked like. And that's when my art came to me, my path and my salvation.
As I learned to feel my feelings and experience my experiences, I could only express myself in raw authenticity. Piece by piece, I learned to trust my feelings and to hear my heart. Piece by piece, I learned what authenticity meant, and I learned first hand that there is no way to pretend to be authentic. Piece by piece, I learned that courage is acquired only by taking courageous action and that vulnerability is an absolute requirement for authentic living. Piece by piece, I learned that the wounds I took in living life were far easier than the wounds I gave myself in hiding. Piece by piece, I learned that to love is to risk, and there is no safe way to love- but that when I vulnerably lead with my love out ahead of me I am strong enough to take on life itself. Piece by piece, I learned that my strength is expressed and measured in my love, authenticity, and vulnerability. Piece by piece, I am remembering who I am and why I'm here.
I am Chris Denton, and I'm honored to share my work and heart with you.