Diane Britton Griffin
Diane Britton Griffin, the youngest child of Robert and Dorothy Britton, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 4, 1955. Destined to be an artist, Diane was doodling on furniture and walls since she was old enough to hold a crayon.
After graduating from East High School (Cleveland Public Schools), Diane attended Case Western Reserve University, Whiting College, and Virginia Martin School of Design. For years, Diane worked a traditional job as an accountant at Beaufort-Jasper-Comprehensive Health Services, while painting at night, which was her true passion and fulfillment.
Diane met the love of her life, Phillip Griffin, in 1996 when they were both residing in Beaufort, S.C. Diane adored the fact that Phillip was a true Southern gentleman and courted her as such. The couple dated for a year and quickly realized they were soulmates. Phillip proposed to Diane and the two married on July 21, 1997, in an intimate ceremony attended by close family and friends.
Diane drew from countless memories of her family’s experience as the inspiration for her artwork, thus touched by the commonalities that all African Americans share, Diane created works that celebrate the common traditions of the historical African American cultures, particularly those of the Lowcountry of South Carolina and the coastal parishes of Louisiana.
Diane spent many childhood years in Plain Dealing, Louisiana, and later, at the age of 25, moved to the coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina, where she lived more than half her life. Diane was inspired by her research and understanding of her family genealogy, which was sparked by her mother’s Louisiana Creole and father’s South Carolina Gullah lineage. Both highly recognized regions impacted the style, technique, and subject matter that distinguish her pieces.
While the Gullah Geechee culture of South Carolina is unique in its pure preservation of culture through undisturbed African lineages, the Creole culture is a celebration of the blending of French, African, Spanish, and Native American cultures. In her own way, Diane B. Dunham, the artist, was able to capture significant components of each culture within her creations. Pieces created by Diane represented the landscape, customs, and heritage of the coastal areas as characterized by marshes, bayous, open and natural sun and moonlight, pastoral homes, schoolhouses, and churches. She incorporated marked elements that characterized her pieces, well known for her brilliant coloring, intricate human and landscape forms, and themes that represent life in South Carolina’s Lowcountry region and the bayous of Louisiana.
As a self-taught mixed-media artist and instructor, Diane received multiple honors and awards from organizations such as the Artisan Center, the Original Gullah Festival, and the Beaufort Art Association. Her works were featured in national publications including Southern Living Magazine and Black Enterprise Magazine.
Diane was known for her intelligence, creative life, and unique ability to create meaningful connections and impact lives. Diane had a strong commitment and love for God and her family. Among Diane’s many loves were fashion, music, trips to the beach, reading, chocolate, serving her community, traveling, but most of all her grandsons. To know Diane was to love her and she will be greatly missed.
She was preceded in death by her parents; a sister, Gloria Franklin and a brother, Ronald Britton.
Her memory will forever be cherished by her husband, Phillip Griffin; her son, Damon Dunham, Sr. (Keanta) of Beaufort, S.C.; her step-daughter, Sonja Evans of Beaufort, S.C.; her grandsons: Tyrell, Damon, Jr., Kameron & Kayden all of Beaufort, S.C.; nephew, Eric Franklin, Sr. of Beaufort, S.C.; nieces: Monica Diane Franklin of Atlanta, Ga., Sharron Scott (Vic) of Bluffton, S.C., Victoria Franklin of Atlanta, Ga., Rebecca Carter (Antonio) of Griffin, Ga., Monica Gaston and Michelle Mosley of Cleveland, Ohio; grand-nieces and grand-nephews, a host of cousins, other relatives and friends.