Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- This modern sculpture marks the intersection of two trails in the Museum Park. It is a site-specific work of art, which means it was created to exist in the exact location where it stands.
- It is made from shattered bricks from the demolition of the prison that once occupied a large area of what is now the Museum Park. The bricks were made by the inmates who built and lived in the prison.
- The sculpture combines brick fragments with Italian glass tiles and carnelian stones. The artist describes her use of prison bricks as “time capsules” that honor the historical significance of this specific place in a new work of art.
- Martha Jackson Jarvis is a Washington, DC-based mosaic artist. When she was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, segregation was still a way of life. Her work acknowledges the changes that have taken place during her lifetime, including civil rights activism, family deaths, and artistic movements.
Martha Jackson Jarvis was commissioned to create a site-specific work of art for the Museum in the early 2000s. When she first visited to discuss ideas sometime around 2003, she was informed of the adjacent Polk Youth Correctional Center’s pending demolition, which by then was on land owned by the Museum. Jackson Jarvis decided to incorporate bricks from the old Polk facility into her sculpture — a decision that paved the way for Crossroads/Trickster I.
The Polk Youth Correctional Center was in operation from 1963 to 1997. Prior to 1963, beginning in the 1920s, the facility had served as a state prison farm and, later, a men’s prison. Prisoners would make bricks during their time here. These bricks were used in the construction of additional buildings. So, the bricks that are now part of Crossroads/Trickster I were not only made on this land — they were also made by the prisoners.
Jackson Jarvis combined the shattered bricks from Polk Youth Correctional Center with Italian glass tiles and carnelian stones to create Crossroads/Trickster I, which was installed shortly after the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park’s opening in 2003. Today, the smokestack that towers over the Park is the only physical structure that remains of Polk Youth Correctional Center. But Jackson Jarvis considers the prison bricks in Crossroads/Trickster I to be, quote, “Time capsules,” end quote.
Indeed, Crossroads/Trickster I is a modern monument constructed from the debris of the past.
Resources for Teachers
- Read an article about Martha Jackson Jarvis and her process.
- Read an article about an exhibition of the artist’s work.
- Watch a video about the artist.
Resources for Students