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Martha Jackson Jarvis (artist)



Martha Jackson Jarvis is a Washington, DC-based mosaic artist. Jackson-Jarvis grew up in Virginia and Pennsylvania. She received a BFA in Ceramics/Sculpture from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia and an MFA in Sculpture/Ceramics from Antioch University in Columbia, Maryland. Her work acknowledges the changes that have taken place during her lifetime, including civil rights activism, family deaths, and artistic movements. For more information, visit the artist’s website:

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Martha Jackson Jarvis (born 1952) is an American artist known for her mixed-media installations that explore aspects of African, African American, and Native American spirituality, ecological concerns, and the role of women in preserving indigenous cultures. Her installations are composed using a variety of natural materials including terracotta, sand, copper, recycled stone, glass, wood and coal. Her sculptures and installations are often site-specific, designed to interact with their surroundings and create a sense of place. Her works often focus on the history and culture of African Americans in the southern United States. In her exhibition at the Corcoran, Jarvis featured over 100 big collard green leaves, numerous carp and a live Potomac catfish.Jackson Jarvis is best known for her outdoor public installations, including a mosaic, "River Spirits of the Anacostia", located at the Anacostia Metro station in Washington, D.C., and sculptures, "Music of the Spheres, at Fannie Mae Plaza in Washington, D.C., and "Crossroads/Trickster I," at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. She also worked as a designer on the set of Julie Dash's 1991 film, Daughters of the Dust.Julie McGee, an art historian at the University of Delaware stated, “The work of Jackson Jarvis operates in two worlds—that of large-scale public commissions and the more intimate space of the gallery. Very few artists are able to finesse both, and certainly not with her acumen and sensitivity.”Jackson Jarvis is well-known for her work "Signs of the Times," which is a series of sculptures on a large scale that examine the history and culture of the African American community. Another significant work by the artist is the "Ancestors' Bones: Free Spirits" series, which consists of large-scale drawings that depict the relationship between nature and the human spirit through improvisational imprints of brush strokes and drips. This work serves as a meaningful tribute to the rich heritage of the community, and it has been displayed in numerous galleries and museums worldwide, such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.Over the course of her career, Jackson Jarvis has been recognized with several awards and honors for her artistic contributions. Notably, she has been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, which is a prestigious accolade in the arts community. Additionally, she was inducted into the Washington, DC Hall of Fame, which is a notable recognition of her impact and influence in the region.In addition to her artistic contributions, Jackson Jarvis has also been an enthusiastic educator and mentor. She has taught at esteemed institutions such as Howard University and the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her contributions to education and mentorship have earned her recognition, such as the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Cleveland Institute of Art.Jackson Jarvis's artwork can be observed in several public places throughout Washington, D.C., including metro stations, courthouses, and the upcoming 11th Street Bridge Park. For instance, she produced the mosaic mural "River Spirits of the Anacostia" for the Anacostia metro station. Additionally, she and her daughter Njena Surae Jarvis were commissioned to create the "Anacostia's Sunrise/Sunset Portals" sculpture for the 11th Street Bridge Park, which is made of aluminum steel and glass mosaic and features 11 multi-colored arches that respond to the surroundings and replicate the color scheme of a sunrise or sunset.The "Contemporary Visual Expressions" was an exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum showcasing works by artists: Sam Gilliam, Martha Jackson Jarvis, Keith Morrison, and William T. Williams. The exhibit demonstrated the versatility of the new gallery and includes an installation created by artist and art historian David Driskell, who also served as guest curator for the show. The highlight of the exhibit was Jackson-Jarvis' "Path of the Avatar", a pinwheel structure that adds energy to the space.