Dana Davenport

Dana Davenport (b. 1994, currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) earned a BFA in Photography from School of Visual Arts in 2015. Her work has been shown throughout the United States and internationally including Gibney Dance, NY; Watermill Center, NY; NYU Skirball, NY; BronxArtSpace, NY; Brown University, RI; NARS Foundation, Brooklyn, NY, to name a few.
November 2, 2021
Tell us about your practice.
My work envisions my own and the collective futurity of Black and Asian peoples while addressing the complexities that surround interminority racism. I often daydream about what our relationships could look like free of divide and conquer tactics that seek to exotify and disjoin Black and Asian camaraderie. This visioning takes on many different forms. I often utilize hair as an object that is representative of the tensions between Black and Korean folks. I look at the beauty supply as the site for these tensions as well as a space where solidarity, joy, and creativity can live.
You have worked in a variety of mediums including video, photography, performance, sculpture, and installation (to name a few). What does the process of choosing a medium for a certain project look like for you?
I begin by considering the audience that I want to pull in and how I want folks to interact with the concept. I’m always adding new skills to my repertoire and picking up new tools along the way. I first had the idea to create the Box Braid Chandeliers a few years before I made the first one. At the time, I wasn’t familiar with metalwork and couldn’t figure out how to fabricate them. A dear family friend and retired engineer offered to teach me how to weld one day which has opened up new possibilities. 
I utilize the tools that I have to create what’s needed.
Your most recent exhibition took shape as a fully functioning Beauty Supply Shop at Recess Gallery. For this project you worked with many collaborators – can you elaborate on the importance and role of collaboration in your artistic practice?
In creating Dana’s Beauty Supply, collaboration was an essential part of the process and intent of the project. In reimagining what a beauty supply can exist as in our modern times,  collaboration, solidarity, and empathy all come to mind. Supporting the community that you serve is part of that. All of the folks I worked with, Paris McKenzie, Oshane Nelson (Paris’ brother and manager of Paris Beauty Supplyz), Kiarrah Lynn Beverly, Shandaza Paige (whose lashes we stocked), Eve Talley, and Sonya Harris (whose earrings we stocked), are all extremely talented individuals. I wanted to highlight that and support them and their businesses with love but also in monetary ways.
What has been inspiring you lately?
I’m constantly inspired by the relationships in my life, from my partner, family, and friends. I recently had an amazing experience with a group of women from a Visual AIDS Women’s Empowerment Art Therapy Workshop. They came through Dana’s Beauty Supply and we did a walkthrough of the installation, had a painting party, and enjoyed a meal together. Their perspective on the installation, as women that are fabulous and frequent beauty supplies, was so valuable. Above all, the joy they expressed walking through the aisles, purchasing discounted products, and recommending items to each other while discussing the history and tensions that usually exist in these spaces, is exactly what I had hoped the space could foster.

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