Shop Talk: Anna Donado

Blog Category:  Museum Shop
Anna Donado; Photo courtesy of the artist

Get to know Anna Donado, co-founder (along with her husband Juan) and artistic director of Goose Grease, a fair-trade company specializing in handmade wooden peg dolls.

Check out the “Women Artists” doll set in NMWA’s museum shop. And stay tuned for a special collaboration between NMWA and Goose Grease, which will debut next month! 

1. What is the most fulfilling project you’ve done with your students at the Goose Grease House for the Arts curriculum?  

We teach about 100 students a week in our studio in Brooklyn. We have made some memorable projects inspired by different subjects, such as ancient civilizations (Egypt, China, India, etc.) and modern events like the World Wars. If we had to pick one, we’d go for a small replica of a brownstone that we made while studying the Harlem Renaissance. It was outfitted with a barber shop on the ground floor and a little jazz club at the top. Very sweet!  

2. You’ve said that your inspiration for interior design comes from necessity. Which necessary piece in your home is also the most unique? 

We’ve made wooden dolls for many years now and our carpenter, who is quite a skilled artisan, also makes musical instruments. We needed a side table for our sofa, so we bought a handmade drum from him to double as a side table. It’s a beautifully crafted instrument and we’ve covered it with some art books, so it’s still functional and can also be played.  

Four minimalist wooden dolls are arranged against a white background. They are painted wearing different sets of clothing and hair.
Check out Goose Grease’s “Women Artists” doll set in NMWA’s Museum Shop; Artists left to right: Augusta Savage, Louise Bourgeois, Helen Frankenthaler, and Ruth Asawa

3. You’ve raised your children to be bilingual. Is there a word in Spanish that resonates with you more than its English counterpart?   

Well, there is the word “chévere.” It essentially means “cool,” but with a little more salsa to it. Cool is cool, but “chévere” made the great Héctor Lavor say: “Es chévere ser grande, pero es más grande ser chévere,” which could be translated loosely as: “It’s cool to be great, but it’s greater to be chévere.”  

4. What advice do you have for a creator looking to utilize more sustainable production in their business?    

Because of where we are economically, in the developed capitalism we inhabit, people are understanding more and more that the businesses they support will be the businesses that shape their world. Strive to reach customers who share your values. If your audience doesn’t know this already, try to teach them that when they invest in a sustainable product, they’re investing in the future they want to see and the change they want to see along with it. Think long term.   

5. If you could make a set of dolls to include five women who have inspired you the most, who would you include?  

Oh, there’s so many—and so many are unknown! We would go with a set that includes artists Alice Neel and Frida Kahlo, civil rights activist Ruby Bridges, novelist Irène Némirovsky, and singer Ella Fitzgerald.

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