Artist Sawyer Rose Examines the Labor of Women
“Force of Nature”: An Exhibition About Women’s Work Inequality Today
June 26, 2017, Oakland, CA: Curator Dasha Matsuura of Spoke Art Gallery and Oakland Art Murmur presents the multi-media exhibition “Force of Nature” by San Francisco Bay Area artist Sawyer Rose. Part of Sawyer’s ongoing series “The Carrying Stones Project,” which explores gendered work inequality in its many forms, “Force of Nature” debuts a new series of sculptures and photographic portraits that reveals the invisible force that fuels working women. The underlying concept of “The Carrying Stones Project” plays upon the idea of the oldest tool of mankind― the stone― in a project whose process is deeply embedded in today’s digital technology. Real-life data was collected using a custom-built app that enabled participants to record their unpaid and paid labor, hour by hour. “Force of Nature” uniquely unfolds the data in a quantitative manner through material and documented performance. On September 1st, this app will be featured in a public participatory event at which visitors to the exhibition will get to enter their work-time data and have their portrait taken trying on a “Force of Nature” sculpture in the same way as the women whose histories are told through the project.
“Force of Nature” follows Sawyer’s 2016 interactive and sculptural project “Ties That Bind” featured at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. Building upon that projects’ theme of women working to break the glass ceiling while scrubbing the glass floor, “Force of Nature” takes a more individualized and physical approach, transforming collected data of hourly activities from over 40 women of various ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds into weight-bearing sculptures, performance work and written and photographic documentation. Initiated during Sawyer’s 2017 residency at MASS MoCA, these sculptures are abstract representations of each project participant’s working experience. They are also the basis of a series of deeply personal portraits which show these women lifting and carrying the sculptures that record their labors. “I want to show them literally shouldering their workloads,” Sawyer says.
Born and raised in North Carolina and a graduate of Williams College in Massachusetts, Sawyer has made the Bay Area her home since 1999. She has been a resident artist at The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, The Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, Vermont Studio Center, and Penland School of Crafts. She has been awarded merit grants from The Center for Cultural Innovation’s Creative Capacity Fund and Vermont Studio Center. She is the President of the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art and serves on the Board of Directors of Oakland Art Murmur.
“Force of Nature” launches with an art opening reception at Classic Cars West in Oakland on Friday, August 4th from 6-9pm followed by a special Press Event on Saturday, August 5th from 11am-1pm. The exhibition continues through September 30th. Classic Cars West presents various art exhibitions throughout the year as part of Oakland Art Murmur, an organization that focuses on promoting the awareness, visibility, understanding, and vibrancy of visual art in Oakland. For more information, please visit www.carrying-stones.com, www.sawyerrose.com, and oaklandartmurmur.org.
During a public interactive event in conjunction with the exhibition, visitors to the installation will get to take the role of “Force of Nature” participants. Visitors will enter work-time data from their own life at an iPad kiosk. They will then have their portrait taken wearing or carrying a custom-generated sculpture of their working hours.
By examining their own workloads, and those of partners and friends, and shouldering physical depictions of those loads, Sawyer looks to give people new insight as to how they fit in to the larger labor landscape.