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Wednesday December 7th

Native North Carolina artist brings series of works to UNC

The Carrying Stones Project by Sawyer Rose highlights women's work inequity through art and data visualization. Rose's art challenges equity, labor and community issues by sharing the faces and stories behind the numbers. Pictured on Sept. 23, 2022.
Buy Photos The Carrying Stones Project by Sawyer Rose highlights women's work inequity through art and data visualization. Rose's art challenges equity, labor and community issues by sharing the faces and stories behind the numbers. Pictured on Sept. 23, 2022.

Sawyer Rose is many things. 

She is a sculptor. She is an installation and social practice artist. She is a native of North Carolina. However, she is a woman at the core of the project that’s now been brought to UNC. 

Rose has been using her research and art skills for the past seven years to create a series of works titled “The Carrying Stones Project.” 

She said the aim of the work is to spark meaningful conversations about women’s work inequity. Throughout the research process, she learned how significant the difference between the labor of men and women was.

“I wasn’t surprised that those disparities existed,” she said. “I was surprised how stark the differences were. Women do more unpaid labor than men in every country in the world.”

Rose said she was shocked to find that women do more labor in many areas, including child and elder care, cooking, cleaning and volunteering. This inspired her to visualize women’s work through her art.

She began the series by profiling women of diverse backgrounds in order to gather data about their paid and unpaid labor. She then created sculptures visually representing the data accompanied by photographs of women with the art. 

Alongside the sculptural work, she also created paper and panel pieces about gender pay gaps and other issues facing women in the workplace. 

Rose brings awareness to these issues by integrating social practice art into the project, which she sai gets community members involved in the making or experience of the project. 

When she first debuted “The Carrying Stones Project” in San Francisco, Rose said she had community members help her finish assembling the data visualization sculpture into its final form a — 20-foot-long outdoor sculpture. 

For Rose, it is rewarding to see people impacted by her work.

“It’s wonderful when people bring their partners, they bring their kids, they bring their friends, so they get to understand their place in the labor landscape,” Rose said.

Now, students and staff at UNC can experience Carrying Stones, as the project was brought to the University as part of Honors Carolina’s annual Frank Porter Graham Lecture Series. Last week, several of Rose’s pieces were installed in Davis Library with the help of students and staff. 

Aspyn Fulcher, the director of student development and co-curricular planning for Honors Carolina, said students both with and without art installation experience volunteered to help Rose’s work come to life in Davis. 

“The topic that this artwork encompasses really resonated with a lot of students that were walking by and students that were working on it and our faculty and staff because this is a social issue that impacts everyone,” Fulcher said. 

Students also had the opportunity to meet Rose and ask questions about her work. Fulcher said students of all identities and backgrounds came to discuss the ways “The Carrying Stones Project” impacted them. 

Rose said having those conversations helped her learn as well.

“The questions that they’ve asked have sometimes set me wondering which is exactly what I want,” Rose said. “That two-way street of us all learning new ways to think about this topic.”

That learning will also continue abroad. Rose said her work with “The Carrying Stones Project” is ongoing and she plans to begin profiling women in other countries across the globe. 

Back on campus, Rose’s work will be on display in Davis Library until Nov. 14. 

According to a statement from María Estorino, interim vice provost for University Libraries and university librarian, having art like “The Carrying Stones Project” on campus is an important part of learning at UNC.

“Exhibitions are one way in which the University Libraries at Carolina provide our campus community with free and open opportunities to learn, to spark imagination and to explore concepts or issues in creative ways,” she said.

To learn about and see more of Carrying Stones, visit Rose’s website.

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