Sawyer Rose is a sculpture, installation, and social practice artist. Throughout her career, Rose has used her artwork to shine a spotlight on contemporary social and ecological issues. Her metalwork sculptures explore the ways living things adapt to changing environments and The Carrying Stones Project addresses issues around women’s work inequity. Her work has been exhibited widely across the US.
Rose has been a resident artist at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture in San Francisco, Vermont Studio Center, Ragdale Foundation, and The Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland. She has been awarded merit grants from The Creative Capacity Fund, The Awesome Foundation, and Vermont Studio Center, and Artist Grant SF.
Rose is the President of the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art, a nonprofit providing women in the arts with leadership opportunities, mentorship, and professional development.
Born and raised in North Carolina and a graduate of Williams College in Massachusetts, she currently lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Both sculptural and painterly, the botanical forms in my work are clad in layers of silver solder and copper, as if their delicate bodies are growing the armor they need to flourish in the environment humans are leaving for them. Using the texture of the metal as my primary mark-making medium, the liquefied silver morphs into bark, or feathers, or scales. There is eloquence and beauty in the act of self-protection.
The surfaces of my soldered metal pieces draw inspiration from unexpectedly diverse sources—typically a mash-up of California native flora and Medieval weaponry—though I’ve also tapped into the organic patterns of coral, fungus, and lava flows for fresh ideas.
In a recent departure, I based the patterning of one sphere sculpture titled Dissent on the jabot (or, collar) that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wears when she announces a dissenting opinion on a Supreme Court case. Metaphorically, the Justice wears this jeweled armor when defending her views in an increasingly hostile political environment.
When building these works, I begin by covering the areas I want to solder with thick copper foil. Next, I lay down the first layer of texture in silver solder—like painting with molten metal. I add dimension to the work by placing beads of solder to create depth and contrast. The pieces are covered with a rich black patina, and burnished with steel wool to bring out shining highlights on the raised peaks, while leaving dark in the valleys.