A woman’s work is never done, and there is an app for that.

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.

Sawyer standing in front of Tracy, 2017 Mortar, Brass Tubes, Silver Solder, Wood 8 x 9 ft.

Curated by Dasha Matsuura of Spoke Gallery and Oakland Art MurmurForce 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.

Anna & Hillary, 2017 Archival Pigment Print.  Anna works full-time in the home, homeschooling their 7-year old while also caring for their toddler. Hillary worked in digital services for the US government through the Obama administration, and has recently been named the first-ever Chief Digital Officer for the province of Ontario, Canada. Though they are two women sharing one massive workload, their partnership tends toward traditional roles of money-maker and home-caregiver. 
Anna & Hillary, 2017 Felt, Aluminum, Silver Solder, Rope 10 x 4 feet

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.

The barnacle and I standing in front of Amira, 2017 Faux Leather, Wire, Thread, Silver Solder, Acrylic 6 x 15 ft.

Amira, 2017 Archival Pigment Print Edition of 3, 36 x 24 inches. Amira works as an art consultant, marketing consultant, and podcast host. She volunteers with a number of Oakland community organizations, and in her “ spare” time, she hosts a monthly multi-racial book club. And teaches workshops. And leads art tours. There’s not much she doesn’t do, and do well.

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.

Bety, 2017 Archival Pigment Print Edition of 3, 36 x 24 inches.  Bety works cleaning homes, and she also gets up early every weekday to volunteer at morning mass at her church. She does most of the domestic labor in her own home, though she says doesn’t consider it a burden, and in fact, she’ll usually leave off working on her own tasks if someone needs something from her. “ If there’s something else that needs to be done other than my thing, I’m going to do the other thing first, even though I know I need the time for myself.”

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!