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Donavon Smallwood

Erin, 2016

on reverse: an interview with Donavon Smallwood Jr. by Ashley McNelis

Donavon Smallwood Jr. is a New York-born, raised and based photographer whose work is motivated by the concept of beauty. He received his BA in Documentary Production from Hunter College. In his spare time, he likes to listen to podcasts about epistemology. For the back of his poster, he was interviewed by Ashley McNelis, a writer, curator, and art historian that works at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. Here’s an extract:

AM How do you think growing up in New York City affected your work?  

DS As everyone knows, New York City is generally a very fast-paced environment. But I spent most of my childhood in East Harlem and the Upper East Side which, for the most part, are more relaxed, family-oriented neighborhoods. I think the slow and steady pace has snuck into almost every aspect of my life since that’s really all I’ve ever known.

AM What was your reasoning behind deciding not to go to art school?

DS I never really realized how insane the tuition costs were until I applied for private colleges a few years back. I remember looking at how much Pratt was proposing to give me in student loans for the semester... It blew my mind. Shortly after that, I met a photographer I admire, Jimmy Fontaine, and he gave me the “don’t go to art school” talk. It was all I needed to hear.