jarvis jackson headshot

Martha Jackson-Jarvis

Resident Artist - Past

Residence Time: 1976-1977

Born in 1952, Martha Jackson Jarvis grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and currently lives and works in Washington, D.C. She studied at Howard University and received a BFA degree from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University and an MFA from Antioch University. Jackson Jarvis also studied mosaic techniques and stone cutting in Ravenna, Italy.

"My art practice encompasses sculpture, public art, and studio production that include two-dimensional works. The unifying elements and indelible relationship between each genre are my continuous investigation of scale, intrinsic material structure, and imagined form.  The elastic boundaries of my studio practice fuel the production and sustainability of works that move freely between permanence and impermanence. I consider each work an intricate part of one unified body of work and continuous narrative.

I create imagined space and form that signify action, ritual, repetition, and innovation. My works are attentive to ecosystems, decay, rebirth, sedimentation, and transformative form."

What The Clay Studio means to me:

The Clay Studio was an extraordinary place that allowed exploration and access to the necessary tools and creative milieu to work in clay and imagine the world. The text from an exhibition catalog from 1979 provides a time capsule into my work’s progression during my time there. “Technically, my work has moved toward exploration of ancient methods of firing and forming clay (i.e. Pit Firings, Dung, Sawdust, and the ancient Japanese method of Raku). It has been my research into these that form the historical basis of my work. Through modern technology, I’ve studied the improvement and enhancement of these ancient techniques, while maintaining the distinctive qualities that each have to offer. 

My work is in search of universal forms and images which present feelings of familiarity and extensions of the natural environment. Images which speak of continuation and growth like the untouched structure of a seed pod, a wind formed canyon, the sand work pyramids, or Stonehenge. This is now my direction in clay.” 

Today, my work engages issues of identity and symbols of belief that confront us in contemporary life yet are firmly rooted in historical traditions and culture. It challenges the viewer to see the place where they are as extraordinary.

After being a Resident Artist at The Clay Studio from 1974 until 1980, Jackson Jarvis moved to the DC area, where her artistic career flourished and evolved into larger work for public spaces made of metal and wood, in addition to clay.