Art helped Davita Galloway reinvent — and now, she’s offering others the same chance

Davita Galloway
Photo by Will Jenkins

The night before Davita Galloway was confronted by her employer for stealing $20,000 in cash and products, she dreamt about getting caught. She woke up with a choice to make: she could run, or she could face the consequences of her crime.

Galloway chose to stay and address her worst fears, knowing she would be letting her family down.

“I lost myself,” she said. “I wanted to make my family happy.”

Just two years before in 2006, Galloway graduated from University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a masters degree in public health. She was unsure about her next steps and was intrigued by fashion and inspired by the television show, Project Runway. She applied and was accepted to Parsons School of Design in New York City. Galloway moved to New York, but when school didn’t work out, she stayed in the city working at a retail store. Although her expenses were more than her income, Galloway didn’t want to ask her family for help.

Alex Cason Photography
Davita Galloway, owner of DUPP&SWAT

Retail store staff were waiting for Galloway the morning after her dream to speak with her. She confessed and was arrested. She was charged with a misdemeanor and paid restitution. With the help of her family, Galloway moved back to her hometown of Winston-Salem. She struggled with severe depression. One night, she started writing poems, doodling and taking pictures that told her story. She self-published “Two Scraped Knees: A Self Portrait” in 2010.

She worried a criminal record would make it tough to get a job, so she decided to become an entrepreneur.

Galloway, 39, now co-owns Dupp & Swat with her brother, Dion Galloway. The creative studio has been in various locations around Charlotte for the past 10 years. It’s a space for special events such as parties, book signings and open mic nights. They also feature local artists’ and designers’ work. Artists use the space to work — it’s like coworking for creatives. Their newest space at Camp North End opens today, just in time for this weekend’s End-to-End Festival.

Photo courtesy of Davita Galloway, Davita Galloway
Photo by Will Jenkins

Galloway answered five questions for CharlotteFive:

(1) Do you think Charlotte is headed in the right direction?

“In terms of the art community, I see a lot of growth. There’s so much talent in Charlotte, and it’s great that it’s visible now through different festivals like BOOM, like Charlotte SHOUT! It brings a lot of people together.

“In those instances I see Charlotte coming together, and it’s beautiful. But I guess in every city there are things that we must grapple with and focus on, but as long as there are people who are telling their truth and speaking up and out on things that are important and that directly impact the community, then Charlotte will be okay.”

(2) What does accomplishment mean to you?

“Being happy at the end of the day. Does that sound cliche? But it’s so true. I feel like that’s how I measure success. If I can look at myself at the end of the day and be satisfied, because again, I lived my life for so long not doing that. So I know what the other feels like, and I just refuse to live my life going forward like that.

“I think we are under a lot of pressure to satisfy family, friends, but we do so at the detriment of ourselves, particularly if that’s not who we are or who we want to be.

(3) How do you think perceptions play into how people interact with one another?

“Greatly. I think perceptions can impede progress, because “isms” start working. I think perceptions keep people comfortable. I say that because, say, it may limit interactions with other groups because you perceive them to be dangerous or you perceive them to be violent or you perceive them to be X, and so therefore you don’t want to be a part of that — so it can be very limiting.

“I also think perceptions aren’t reality, and so I only think you can know and truly understand reality if you talk. I don’t like living my life based on perceptions. I’d rather just come and talk to that person to find out the real. I’d rather just go and address the issue directly instead of hearsay or going on what I think may be the case. Let’s just handle it like grown-ups.”

Photo courtesy of Davita Galloway, Davita Galloway
Photo by Will Jenkins

(4) Why do you get up every morning?

“I got things to do. I have so many ideas that come to me, and I feel like I have such a huge responsibility to get those out. So I was just watching this interview with Meagan Good. I remember her saying when she transitions, she doesn’t want to have anything left, and I understand that because I want to get everything that’s in me, out.”

(5) What does art do?

“It causes shifts. It explains cultures. It tells stories. It pushes people. It makes people uncomfortable. It saves lives. It speaks truths, art. It shapes community. It’s a catalyst for change. It’s a catalyst for so much. It’s a catalyst for connecting. It brings forth smiles. It raises heart rates, but can also calm.”

Who else would you like for us to ask five questions? Email and let us know, or tell us in the comments.



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