NOTHING ELSE MATTERS
Bridesmaid dress, jewelry, rosary beads, rose petals, needlework,
guitar string ball-ends, damask tablecloth, quilt, fur hat, buttons,
bone beads, pins, beads, synthetic hair, thread
Courtesy of Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Larchmont, NY
Donna Sharrett is a magpie. She collects objects and scraps of cloth with personal meaning to her, attracted to those that are sensual to the touch or appealing to the eye. Her works, which might read as giant doilies, are informed by Victorian textiles as well as Medieval cathedrals’ stained-glass rose windows. Sharrett’s needlework craft and the softly-hued, carefully rendered abstraction she favors appear as traditional craft writ large. She uses hand-sewing techniques, knots, and stitches that would have been familiar to Victorian women, although the variety of materials—ranging from rose petals to guitar strings—represents a rampantly inclusive view of textile art that would startle a 19thcentury seamstress.
Highly skilled assemblage goes into the balance and composition of these works. To Sharrett, slowness is part of the point, and her work celebrates the labor-intensive. She waits for moments of inspiration to infuse her compositions, allowing for changes in the designs as she expands her patterns. The materials that make their way into her mixture are often gifts, and thus the gift givers become unwitting collaborators with the artist.
In these works, Sharrett seemingly undercuts the visual feminine historicism of her work, naming each after popular rock songs, inspired by the music loved by her late brother, a musician. Nothing Else Matters is named after a 1992 song by the heavymetal band Metallica, and includes varied objects such as a quilt, a fur hat, and beads. Through her skill, the artist brings all of the disparate elements together into a restrained and coherent whole.