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The Benefit
March 24, 2021

Roadside Visage and Donnelly’s Woven Experiences

About the Author
Doria Wohler

See the exhibition here

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With an entire collection of wearable work composed of upcycled fabric scraps, Shelby Donnelly’s Roadside Visage is a piece which not only stands alone as a unique textile work, but represents Donnelly as an artist, a creator, and a mender of otherwise forgotten fabrics. “Roadside Visage,” is small but mighty, brilliant in its simplicity, and composed entirely of scrap fabric— a detail which works with ease as a metaphor for what this piece, and so much of Shelby’s other work, is intended to exemplify.
Created while in residency at the Milly Colony in New York, Roadside Visage uses fabric to represent scenery through abstraction of color and pattern. Layers upon layers of fabric, strips with frayed edges and seams, knotted and tied together into a portrait of a time and place, unique to Donnelly’s own experience. Experience in this way comes to mirror the medium: the act of mending together experiences, layered and interwoven into a small, almost pocket-sized memory, composed of an indistinguishable collection of moments and action.
Experience, in this case, is embodied through fragmentation, and there is no better literal way of representing this than through the artistry of Roadside Visage, whereby Donnelly creates a representation of a time and place by using scrap fabrics from other pieces she was working on during this time. In her body of work, Donnelly frequently exercised the practice of using remnant fabrics, which is both a practice of sustainability, and a method of creation which gives new life and meaning to her textile works. She incorporates “fragments of cultural sources and materials,” into much of her work,  and while this applies to her work as an artist of various mediums, often pairing news and movies with tangible fabrics, she also maintains this mission by mixing otherwise unlike pieces of work into a cohesive whole, such as  in Roadside Visage. As an interdisciplinary artist, Donnelly is privy to the blending of mediums, and in many ways this piece feels literary, with so much symbolism built into a less-than-outspoken work. In all its subtlety, Roadside Visage mends together, literally and figuratively, memory and experience, a collection of fabrics from pieces which have come into their own, like a time capsule of works passed.
Shelby Donnelly’s Roadside Visage will be available for bidding through our silent auction platform, Givesmart, and viewing online and in-person through appointment only in our gallery.
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