I want to draw them in. How do you bring in magic and energy into an urban encounter? By elevating consciousness.

–Martha Jackson-Jarvis

On March 19, in celebration of International Women’s History Month, 60+ art enthusiasts, collectors, artists and community folks gathered at the Gateway Arts Center to meet mixed media/ installation artist Martha Jackson-Jarvis for a lively discussion about her past and present work—specifically her current installation project, Message in a Bottle/Scent of Magnolia. This work is featured in the current PGAAMCC and Brentwood Arts Exchange collaborative exhibition, Resonant Forms: Artwork by Alonzo Davis, Martha-Jackson Jarvis, and Frank Smith.

Message in a Bottle/Scent of Magnolia is a sculpture installation project that explores the meaning of courage and necessity as it relates to the cultural environment and landscape environment. It combines disparate materials of stone, concrete, glass, and aluminum in a visual narrative that uses southern landscapes as a metaphor for change, loss, and reclamation of natural history, cultural history, and environmental history. Martha has jettisoned this current body of work into an ongoing project. To learn more visit http://bit.ly/mjj-message. Jarvis was joined by artist/curator/art Journalist A.M. Weaver, a major voice shaping the discourse and dissemination of information on visual artists of color and women artists. She is currently a consultant for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and works as an art journalist for publications such as Art South Africa, African Arts, Photo Review, Sculpture Magazine, Art Review/London, and Fiberarts.

Jarvis and Weaver captivated the audience with a soulful and interpretive exploration of Martha’s 30+ years of work. Images were presented featuring the many mediums of her evolution as an artist— from her childhood in Virginia, where she began sculpting mud, to her subsequent rise as an international artist who now installs large scale permanent work throughout the US and worldwide.

Particularly resonant was Jarvis’s statement that art is as integral to life as the air we breathe and is often compelled by cultural and spiritual influences combined with nature’s expansionary continuum. Her vision and output exemplifies how the alchemy of art, environment, and community inclusivity leads to a fuller realization of the worlds we create and live in: “My current work explores issues of conservation and our relationship to natural materials and landscapes. I draw uncommon analogies between disparate forms, disparate objects and disparate materials to construct a narrative of real and imagined landscapes. My memory and enchantment with nature spring from my encounters in the southern landscape in childhood. I am interested in forces that bind inanimate and animate objects in a matrix of living interdependent forces that influence life and our place on Earth. I explore the energy in materials, their emanating auras, textures, and sources of power. Elements of impermanence and enduring cycles of change are revealed.”

If you haven’t already done so, come see Message in a Bottle/Scent of Magnolia, as part of the Resonant Forms exhibition on view through April 9, at PGAAMCC’s Gallery 110 and the Brentwood Arts Exchange gallery located at the Gateway Arts Center, 3901 Rhode Island Avenue, Brentwood, MD 20722.

By Tonya Jordan PGAAMCC, Community Engagement Manager March 23, 2011