Home Architect Martha Jackson Jarvis at the Baltimore Museum of Art

Martha Jackson Jarvis at the Baltimore Museum of Art

by godlove4241
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“What the Trees Have Seen” is Martha Jackson Jarvis’ first solo exhibition in a museum since 1996. Her expressive mixed-media paintings flood the galleries with vibrant color, accompanied by solid earth tones and generous expanses of black-walnut ink – the compositions practically dance across the gallery walls.

The show pays homage to his great-great-great-great-grandfather Luke Valentine and his breathtaking odysseys. Valentine was a free black militiaman during the American Revolution who traveled on foot to South Carolina several times from Virginia to fight. Following a transcript of Valentine’s testimony to the US Congress that he gave to receive his veteran’s pension, the artist physically traced and recorded his loved one’s footsteps for nearly a year. Jackson Jarvis clearly embodied his ancestor’s sense of spirit and faith, which resonates palpably throughout this presentation.

The exhibition centers around the “Adaptation: Luke Valentine’s Sonic Journey” series, 2020-22, comprising thirteen large-scale abstract paintings in mixed media, including Night Crawlers meets Day Break I, 2020, which features a murky muddy brown background interrupted by explosive passages of red, yellow and green. As its title suggests, the work evokes the nocturnal elements of Valentine’s Day travels and is surreal in its striking stillness. The artist’s brushstroke recalls the trajectories of shooting stars crossing the night sky. Here and elsewhere, Jackson Jarvis refers to the celestial bodies that illuminated Valentine’s travels.

The artist has imbued the exhibition with aspects that broaden the sensory experience of the show, such as Herman Burney’s sound composition A sonic journey, 2023, which seems to rhythmically mirror Valentine’s careful wanderings during the war. A collection of poems by poet Carol Bean has also been created to accompany the exhibition. Additionally, the tangibility of Jackson Jarvis’ studio process is literalized through a small, 300-pound piece of paper on display – the material she used for all the work here. Viewers are invited to touch the paint-splattered scrap metal; in doing so, one is physically connected with the artist’s past and the efforts she has made to manifest it for our delight in the present.

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