Dana Davenport

Dana Davenport

About The Artist

Dana Davenport • Los Angeles, CA

Dana Davenport (b.1994) is a Korean and Black-American interdisciplinary artist raised in Seoul, South Korea, and currently based between Los Angeles and Brooklyn. Her work shifts between installation, sculpture, video, and performance. Within her practice, she addresses the complexities that surround interminority relationships as a foundation for envisioning her own and the collective futurity of Black and Asian peoples. She utilizes hair and hair care products, items that are overwhelmingly sold by Koreans to Black Americans, as a proxy for her body. She considers the implications of these materials as they sit on the beauty supply shelf and how they are activated in the hands of Black folks through love and labor. By tethering the objects to their source, she's creating a visual language around Black and Asian solidarity while turning to the beauty supply as her source of inspiration.


Artist website

Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

My process begins with sourcing materials (synthetic hair) from beauty supply stores around Los Angeles and New York City, creating relationships with the store owners, and observing the way Korean store owners interact with their customers. I wonder to myself if they have any clue that I, too, am Korean. I roam through the aisles looking for the perfect crochet box braids while perusing the newest hair and beauty products. The next step is designing the structure and visiting chandelier stores for inspiration. After welding together the steel base myself, I carefully place each braid, adorning the forms with beauty supply ornaments and clay molded into Korean phases such as "여름 훈녀-Hot Girl Summer" and "블랙파워-Black Power.

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

While my interest and experience working with hair began as early as my adolescence, I began utilizing hair as an artistic tool in 2016 as I was seeking a material that could speak to the tensions that I experience in being a Black and Korean woman and having grown up in Seoul, South Korea. Having previously worked within performance, I grew weary of using my body and its physicality to express these tensions. Creating the Box Braid Series has allowed me to broaden my communicative tools. My work actively searches for ways in which communities of color can remedy our relationships with each other and avoid divide-and-conquer tactics that seek to exotify and disjoin Black and Asian comradery.

What is something unique about you or your practice?

The unique aspect of my work can be seen not only in the combination of form and material but also in the research and histories associated with the primary material, hair. My work reimagines hair and the beauty supply as a site for solidarity rather than friction while examining the commodity history of hair as it relates to the industrialization of South Korea and the sacrality of hair within Black American culture. By entering the wig business, Korean Americans also entered into a relationship with African American women and their hair. These are the histories that I explore.