Just Desserts: Is This Artist’s ‘Sweet’ Work Good Enough to Eat?

Just Desserts: Is This Artist’s ‘Sweet’ Work Good Enough to Eat?

FOR ANNA SWEET, the hunger for sugar, carbs, and fat is much like the art world’s hunger for art — especially art made by attractive, colorful, larger-than-life individuals.

With her movie-star-meets-punk-rock-platinum blond hair, Sweet (the surname is real) is certainly all that and a bag of donuts. But within her glamorous Instagram-worthy persona beats the heart of an artist, whose working-class roots and formidable work ethic continue to inspire her meticulously crafted, double-edged artwork.

Sweet’s hand-sculpted “DotNut” sculptures, each dripping with Day-Glo frosting, covered in sprinkles and other surprises, and mounted on wooden panels in uniform patterns, are available at Avant-Art Gallery. They’re delectable, a bit weird, and speak to her mixed feelings about the art world.

“I wanted to see what else I could do and push myself and have more meaning in my work,” says Sweet of the DotNuts — an unexpected pivot for a highly successful photographer whose underwater images of scantily clad women frolicking beneath the waves inspired hundreds of imitators.

After encountering artist Damien Hirst’s stupefying, million-dollar-selling “spot” paintings, each consisting of hand-painted colored circles symmetrically arranged against a light background, Sweet pondered the difference between price and the value of art, and decided donuts were far more intriguing than spots. But they’re a lot harder to make than you might think. “It’s not something you can just search for on YouTube and figure out!” says Sweet of the process, which she perfected after much trial and error, and ultimately wishes to keep secret for fear of being copied.

Sweet will say each inimitable donut is sculpted by hand, after which a mold is created and injected with different materials, depending on whether the final work will stand alone or be mounted as part of a grid. She’s also created a series of translucent Pooh-bears, their tummies bulging with DotNuts. “The yummy bear is the art collector,” says Sweet.

As one of nine children raised by a single mom who supported the family by restoring and selling paintings and antiques, Sweet endeavored to do the same for herself and her loved ones. Now 36, married, and the mother of two daughters, her hard work has paid off. “I’m creating to create,” says Sweet. “Now that I can afford to sit back a little bit, I feel like I’m starting to grow up as an artist and realize what I’m capable of doing.”

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