Last weekend, we took a family trip to Oakland to check out a show by the Marin-based artist Sawyer Rose. We were so lucky to have Sawyer, who is warm, gregarious and incredibly articulate, treat us to an intimate walkthrough of her show.
Curated by Dasha Matsuura of Spoke Gallery and Oakland Art Murmur, Force of Nature is the latest installment of a larger series by Sawyer titled The Carrying Stones Project, which “explores gendered work inequality in its many forms.”
The multimedia works in the show combine sculpture and photography to illustrate the “invisible force that fuels working women”. Sawyer conceived of each work using data collected from a custom-built app that “enabled participants to record their unpaid and paid labor, hour by hour.” Force of Nature visualizes the data “in a quantitative manner through material and documented performance.” The objects, materials, forms and overall compositions she created for each of her subjects are deeply personal and speak to the multifaceted lives they lead.
Sawyer, a mother of two herself, was inspired to create this project while attempting to explain to her husband how she spends 16 hours on her feet a day, working and carrying for her family and their many and various needs. She said that she got the idea when she decided to draw him a picture so that he could understand where she was coming from.
As a mother of a 2.75-year-old, who works full time, I can relate. I found this project to be incredibly moving. It visualizes what so many working mothers feel and experience–“the second shift”. The “working when you’re not working” as evidenced by the photograph taken of my daughter Bridey impersonating a barnacle while I was trying to take in the show and to have an adult conversation. I should note that my husband, Scott, who does help his wife a lot, tried his damnedest to distract and entertain Bridey so that I could enjoy the show, but, well, the pictures speak for themselves.
I applaud the way Sawyer transformed, what is often described as and feels like drudgery, into something beautiful and heroic. Her subjects look powerful and serene, not overwrought, although I’m sure they have their moments. I should note that not all of her subjects are mothers, like Amira pictured above. Mother or not, women do a shit-ton of work in and outside of their paid jobs for which they get little to no recognition. This body of work simply helps one wrap one’s head around the volume and frequency of such work and how these women contribute to their families and community.
A big shout out for Sawyer’s talented and very helpful husband, J.P. Rose, for taking the first photograph of Bridey and me as well as the one of Sawyer. He spent some time chasing us around taking shots for which I am grateful.
The exhibition is on view through September 30 at Classic Cars West. Go check it out and support Sawyer’s incredible work!