Modern Makers: Sharlaine Anapu

Blog Category:  Museum Shop
A group of women are standing in a shop around a table with colorful books, prints, and other objects on it. They have light skin tones and are wearing colorful dresses.

Inspired by the Makers Mart at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the Modern Makers series highlights local women makers and their diverse companies.

A woman with a medium-dark skin tone and black hair wearing an apron is in her studio mixing colors.

Sharlaine Anapu at work; Photo: Adriana Regalado and Malik Cherry, NMWA

Company: Sharlaine Anapu
Maker: Sharlaine Anapu

Sharlaine Anapu and her company are based in Washington, D.C. Anapu designs and produces handmade jewelry.

1. How did you get started?

I took a four-week fabrication class at the Art League. After taking that class I realized art making was something that I wanted to continue. I started taking classes at the Corcoran. They had recently started a jewelry program there, so I started taking those classes too.

2. What inspires you?

I think for me a lot of it is innate, what I like aesthetically. And in the past, I kind of gravitated more to very organic, natural pieces. But lately I’ve been trying to incorporate a lot of things that are important to me like my heritage. I’ve been trying to infuse some of the tattooing designs that are used in Samoan culture into my work.

3. What does the word “maker? mean to you?

To me it’s somebody that uses their hands to create something. . . an idea that they’ve thought up themselves. That’s how it comes across to me, being able to create my own work, to produce my own designs.

4. How do you see your company evolving?

I would love to be doing this full-time. Even though I do jewelry, I always think about other products, other things that I could make. I have always been interested in leather belts and leather bracelets. Maybe in the future I could incorporate my jewelry making skills into leather designs and leather goods.

Three necklaces with a leather strap and a brown tag with different patterns.

NMWA limited-edition etched dog tags by Sharlaine Anapu

5. Do you have any insights to share as a female business owner?

I think networking with people and the community is a really good way to find out about shows and come up with ideas. The other women that I share the studio with, we always try to brainstorm with other makers and artists in D.C.

6. What is your favorite work from NMWA’s collection?

Magdalena Abakanowicz’s 4 Seated Figures made me wonder what the artist was thinking when she created it. It’s a phenomenal work of art.

7. What inspired the limited-edition NMWA product?

I visited the She Who Tells a Story exhibition and those works really inspired me. I thought about using a dog tag as an object of identification and incorporating my heritage into that. I used tattooing, an important aspect of my culture, on the dog tag to make a great piece.

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