ARVO Interview with Paige Donnelly of AWE
Words & Images by Vincent Ricafort
In the spring of 2016 a friend put me in touch with Paige Donnelly, at that time she was the curator of programs for the Doris Duke Foundation’s Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, where she ran the international artist residency program. Paige is nomadic so catching her working in a cafe houses isn’t an uncommon sight. Fittingly, Paige describes herself as a third culture kid having lived all about the globe as a child of two journalists. I sat down with her to catch up and hear about her current projects and next life itinerary.
www.artworldescape.com | @artworldescape
VR: You describe yourself as a curator right?
PD: A self-taught one. Before my job at Shangri La, I helped run an artist residency program in Beirut that offered respite to young artists fleeing the Syrian civil war. That’s where I began curating shows for emerging artists–the largest one at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
VR: Where did you grow up?
PD: That’s a hard question. I was born in Miami but grew up mostly in Cairo, Jerusalem and South Africa. My parents are both American, but I had one of those transient in-between childhoods of third-culture kids.
VR: What are you up to now?
PD: I left my day job at Shangri La to launch an art and tech startup called AWE, short for Art World Escape. We launched in Honolulu in March.
VR: What is it?
PD: It’s a platform that connects local artists with visitors and residents for an inside look at creative process and place. We have roots in Honolulu but will announce other cities soon.
VR: How does it work?
PD: The artist-led experiences can take many forms. They can take the form of a studio visit, or maybe a behind-the-scenes look at a local film set. Other experiences are more interactive. Some artists may engage audiences in a dynamic performance or an intimate workshop. For all experiences, we see our platform as a tool for artists to share their practice with a wider audience and help them diversify how they earn a living.
VR: Do you have a morning ritual?
PD: I’m usually not in one place long enough to keep rituals. I do like to run in the mornings. My best days always start with a run and meditation–the rest is up for grabs.
VR: How do you like your coffee?
PD: I usually drink it black is unless I’m treating myself to something like the lavender latte here at Arvo.
VR: Early bird or night owl?
PD: Definitely a night owl.
VR: When are you most productive?
PD: When I am collaborating with up-and-coming artists.
VR: Favorite place you’ve been?
PD: Near my house there is a path so overgrown you’d miss it unless you knew where to look. If you snake the river long enough you’ll end up in a magical clearing. That’s my favorite spot right now.
VR: What’s your secret to a great day?
PD: It’s really that balance between knowing when to persevere and knowing when to let go.
ARVO w/Paige Donnelly
Picnic or BBQ
Cat or dog?
PD: Run and meditation
Your go to on the Arvo menu?
PD: Halloumi burger.
PD: Live life like a mighty river.