University Museum University of Delaware
MECHANICAL HALL GALLERY
208 Mechanical Hall
Newark. DE 19716
Julie McGee: Curator
Fall Exhibition 2012:
Martha Jackson Jarvis: Ancestors' Bones
On view at the University Museums, University of Delaware
Martha Jackson Jarvis: Ancestors' Banes explores relationships and contingencies linking histories and
spirits captured in a vintage photographic album and in the physical materiality of nature.
Conceptualized as an environment of immersion that blurs boundaries between sequential and spatial
narratives, her installation of drawings, digitally enhanced imagery and sculpture, literally and
figuratively unearths resonant histories from the photographic record, dislodging the visual fixity of the
socio-historic image, and creatively reimagining their stories within the natural world.
Working with natural materials, pigments, and dyes-most gathered and distilled by the artist-Jackson
Jarvis gives new life to dormant or decaying nature. In her large-scale drawing series Ancestors' Banes:
Free Spirits playful if episodic drips, splashes, and brushy strokes converse with densely interlocked coral
imagery, weighty nodes amongst the diaphanous calligraphy. These large-scale drawings bear the
improvisational imprint of an artist best known for her sculptural work who moves with ease from plane
to space and from the abstract to the concrete. The freedom and freshness imparted in the drawings
relay the creative machinations, in form, structure, and line that underpin much of Jackson Jarvis's
three-dimensional work, as in Nest Stones and Umbilicus (2008).
As an environmental installation, Ancestors' Bones evokes the connective tissue that binds generations
and genuses, the animate and inanimate, the familial and strange. Jackson Jarvis allows the literal and
indexical readings imparted by vintage photographs of black family and community in spare environs to
linger but not define, to inform and influence but not proscribe intended meaning. Overlaid with
natural and organic referents, the photographic trace becomes synonymous with the Iifecycle of nature
just as nature is ancestors' bones. In Jackson Jarvis's work, the regenerative forces of nature and the
human spirit are entangled, nested and rooted. The compost place is Jackson Jarvis's rich terrain, a
source for form, context and creativity.
The exhibition will be on view in Mechanicai Hall Gallery, University Museums, University of Delaware,
Newark, DE from September 5 - December 9, 2012.