Martha Jackson Jarvis

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Martha Jackson Jarvis
Nationality American
Alma mater BFA, Tyler School of Art ; MFA in Sculpture and Ceramics, Antioch University
Known for Sculpture

Martha Jackson Jarvis (born 1952, Lynchburg, Virginia; grew up in Philadelphia, based in the Washington D.C. area) is an American artist. Jackson Jarvis is known for using a variety of natural materials particularly recycled stone, glass, wood, and clay. Her outdoor urban public sculpture, site-specific rural sculpture, and more portable sculpture addresses issues of culture, particularly Southern African-American, and history. She is best known for her enduring outdoor public sculptures including "Music of the Spheres" Fannie Mae Plaza, by University of the District of Columbia and Van Ness Metro station, Washington, D.C. 20003 and "Crossroads/Trickster I," North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, 2005. In 2000, Jarvis received the Creative Capital Award in the discipline of Visual Arts. [1]

Michelle Joan Wilkerson, curator of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture wrote "Jackson Jarvis works with natural materials, including clay, glass, wood, and stone, to create sculpture in the round, using traditional African dung firing and Japanese raku techniques. By incorporating the clay shards that scatter in the firing process into her mosaics, the artist draws on African and African American burial traditions that similarly adorn gravesites with broken plates and crockery."


The artist's first thirteen years in the southern United States in an era when southern folkways prevailed, and integration had not yet taken place,has exerted an enduring influence upon her art. As a child growing up in Lynchburg, Virginia, Martha accompanied her grandmother to a local spring to gather white clay. Making clay dolls and other objects inspired Martha at an early age to want to be an artist.[2] The family moved to Philadelphia when she was thirteen.[3]

Her freshman year at Howard University in the exciting era of 1970 was very influential thanks to the active presence of artists including Lois Mailou Jones, Ed Love, Jeff Donaldson, and Elizabeth Catlett. Nevertheless, she transferred to Tyler University, Philadelphia, to delve deeply into ceramics.[3]

Jackson married Bernard Jarvis, the cousin of her writer friend Bebe Moore Campbell; she continued her studio work while her children Njena and Bernard Jr. were young.[3]



  • Crossroads/Trickster I, 2005, Commissioned by the North Carolina Museum of Art [4]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Farris, Phoebe. Women Artists of Color: A Bio-critical Sourcebook to 20th Century Artists in the Americas. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999. Print.
  3. ^ a b c Swift, Mary. "The Power of One: Martha Jackson Jarvis". Washington Review (February–March 1995). 
  4. ^ "Crossroads/Trickster". ArtNC. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 

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