University of Delaware
Ancestors' Bones #4, 2010–11. Mixed-media drawing including black walnut ink, watercolor, oil, wax, raw pigment, collage, and photo transfer, 20 x 26 1/4 in. Courtesy of Martha Jackson Jarvis Studio

Through Dec. 9: 'Ancestors' Bones'

Mechanical Hall Gallery to feature 'Martha Jackson Jarvis: Ancestors' Bones'


1:52 p.m., Aug. 27, 2012--University Museums has announced a new exhibition, Martha Jackson Jarvis: Ancestors’ Bones, which will be on view Sept. 5 through Dec. 9 in the Mechanical Hall Gallery near Old College on the University of Delaware campus in Newark.

The exhibition features works by Martha Jackson Jarvis, who lives in Washington, D.C., and explores relationships and contingencies linking histories and spirits captured in a vintage photographic album and in the physical materiality of nature.

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University of Delaware graduates planning to attend Alumni Weekend are encouraged to register for the annual Blue Hen 5K walk and run, which will be held Sunday morning, June 5.

June 6-9: Food and culture series

The 20th annual June Lecture Series at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UD in Wilmington will be held June 6-9. Titled 'June a la Carte,' this year's program focuses on great political documents, feminism, world politics and a Newark cuisine sampler.

For Mechanical Hall Gallery information and hours, call 302-831-8037.

About the exhibit

Conceptualized as an environment of immersion that blurs boundaries between sequential and spatial narratives, Jackson Jarvis’ 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' Bones: 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 (2010-11) 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 lifecycle 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. 

About the artist

Martha Jackson Jarvis was born in Lynchburg, Va., in 1952 and resides in Washington, D.C.

Her studio practice includes large-scale public commissions and nature based installations. Jackson Jarvis received her bachelor of arts degree from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia and her master of fine arts degree from Antioch University.

Her first solo exhibition at the University of Delaware, The Gathering, was held in 1988 and was installed in the Old College Gallery. 

For a complete list of events at UD, see the @UD calendar.

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