JACKSON JARVIS STUDIO

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Studio Works

A dark, womblike atmosphere pervaded Martha Jackson Jarvis’s “Ancestors’ Bones,” an exhibition of recent work at the University of Delaware’s Mechanical Hall Gallery. More than a group of individual pieces, the show offered a complete staged environment. ( AM Weaver : Art In America Review) The sculpture Nest Stones (2010-11) straddled most of the central space. A tangled web of cured wisteria- and grapevines, anchored by large pod shapes made of petrified pine bark (pressurized bark found below the earth’s crust) and mortar, rested on the oak floor. Digital enlargement of the artist’s Ancestors’ Bones #1 (2010-11, mixed mediums on paper) covered one wall. The 20-by-26¼-inch drawing was also on view. It is a sepia-toned group portrait of African-Americans assembled in front of a one-room wooden schoolhouse. Hovering above them in the area of the sky are large monochromatic photo transfers of coral clusters. Intrigued by the engravings of Albertus Seda, an 18th-century pharmacologist, zoologist, and collector of plant and animal specimens, Jackson Jarvis used images of coral in most of the two-dimensional works in the exhibition. A series of photo collages lined other walls. These feature shots of Southern vernacular architecture, some inhabited and some not, as well as renderings of skeletal pears, leaves, and maple seeds. The photos were taken from a discarded family album of vintage images, picturing blacks from the turn of the 20th century. The exhibition’s title speaks volumes about the works displayed. Jackson Jarvis, who is based in Washington, D.C., and has been making artwork for more than three decades, intends to evoke ancestral visitors, and always pays homage to the spirit realm in her work. The installations, sculptures, and works on paper in this show reflect her interest in spirituality as well as her love of nature, both flora, and fauna. Like the ancients, Jackson Jarvis believes everything animate and inanimate possesses a life force. Of note, in two adjacent rooms, were additional mural-size details of her photomontages, along with 35 abstract mixed-medium ink drawings that spin-off of Seda’s coral engravings. The most compelling of these are from the “Free Spirit” series, in particular Free Spirit I and IV (both 2011, 42½ by 60 inches). They are a lyrical abstraction at its best and enliven the sepia tones, predominant in smaller drawings created between 2010 and ’11, with splashes of yellow ocher, blue and red. In one section of the show, Jackson Jarvis juxtaposed a mural featuring a detail from one of her gestural drawings and a 76-inch-wide sculpture, Umbilicus (2008). The latter consists of a giant version of a spherical sycamore pod, made of volcanic stone and glass, attached by a wooden vine to a long, narrow pod shape. The metaphor of birthing is evident here and coincides with Jackson Jarvis’s use of symbols of life and living. One was left with a sense of mystery, enhanced by the dramatic low lighting. With this exhibition, Jackson Jarvis brought together works reflective of a sensibility that she has nurtured for years, establishing her process and theme as a cyclical evolution. The term “environment” truly encapsulates the spirit of this exhibition.

CLEVELAND PUBLIC ART PROJECT: BUCKEYE COMMUNITY My proposed sculpture project, entitled Family Circle, celebrates the Buckeye site and establishes a meaningful place of welcome for the community. Family Circle creates a dynamic place that encircles and invites users through the space and towards the campus buildings. Upon entry, viewers are invited on a journey of exploration and discovery through natural materials, tactile surfaces, ancient symbols, icons, patterns, and colors. Conceptually, the Buckeye Project design examines the evolutionary nature of our advances through time and space in a broad context. It reaches over time to acknowledge glacial epochs and topographical changes. Cycles of change encoded in the landscape and the changing stories of human lives are signified. Symbolic artifacts connect diverse cultures entwined in destiny forming Buckeye’s rich community history. Family Circle honors the site and proclaims that we are all heirs to this remarkable place and epic story. My Initial concepts are drawn from the extraordinary story of Cleveland’s earth formations and their history. Cleveland’s oldest stone formation is the bedrock of the Paleozoic era. In the Paleozoic era, coal, limestone, shale, and sandstone deposits of the Ohio region were formed. In the excavation of the St. Luke’s Pointe site, large sandstone boulders were unearthed. In keeping with the “Green Campus” initiative, stones were preserved for use in the landscape design. The structure of natural stone outcroppings will provide an opportunity to engage a small portion of the geological history of the site. It presents the ancient stones as artifacts and reveals the complex processes at work in the environment to students and visitors of the campus. Cleveland is known for its outcroppings of Devonian shale and sandstone. Outcroppings of stone connect us to ancient events, revealing layers of time and earthly resources beyond mortal time. Stones are important markers connecting us with ancient primordial events. Living Artifacts are preserved, revealed, and celebrated by the Family Circle sculpture project. Specimen quality old trees embellish the site, adding a legacy of grandeur and layers of history. The mighty oak has, throughout the centuries, been the subject of story, song, and proverb. More than 80 species of this beautiful tree are found in North America. All oaks are deciduous trees with toothed leaves and heavy, furrowed bark. A large Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) anchors the corner entrance of the Harvey Rice School /Public Library campus. It dominates the site, enfolding the place in the shade and the calming embrace of a mature majestic shade tree. The towering red oak is encircled with a series of cast concrete low seat walls that float along the drip line of the tree to ensure its root safety. Each seat wall is anchored by outcroppings of stones scattered along the bench wall surfaces and ground plane. Visitors entering the circle are engaged in a matrix of energy, observation, and reflection. Viewers move between encounters with ancient earth stones and reflective glass mosaics. Designated portions of the seat walls are shrouded in glass mosaic renderings of indigenous textile designs from African, Hungarian, and Native American cultures. These emblems of ancient cultures and iconic forms enliven the circle with the cumulative energy and creativity of the diverse human family.  African American Quilt Pattern Mosaic constructed in the studio  Hungarian Textile Mosaic Pattern  N Jena, studio assistant packing mosaic segments for transport to Cleveland  We are now in Cleveland on-site to begin the construction of poured concrete forms.  The earth reveals its textures colors and aromatic dampness.  Sandstone boulders were unearthed and excavated from their ancient resting places to be used in The Family Circle.  Seven concrete arched bench forms were poured against the curves and crevasses of amorphous stone boulders.  Installation of Mosaic Textile onto poured concrete bench forms encircled with stones  The ground is cold, wet, and hard, Cleveland's lake effect commanded rain and dark clouds for ten straight days during installation. My Installation Crew, (from left to right) Janet Jackson, Martha Jackson Jarvis, Njena Surae Jarvis, and, Tiffany Graham, Project Manager Cleveland Public Art. The power and determination of four good Women were made manifest.