Installation view, Martha Jackson Jarvis: What the Trees Have Seen, May 2023. Photo by Mitro Hood or Martha Jackson Jarvis. Crossing Land. 2020. From the series Adaptation. Courtesy of the Artist

Martha Jackson Jarvis: What the Trees Have Seen


Inspired by family research into her great-great-great-great grandfather Luke Valentine’s service as a free Black militiaman in the American Revolution, Martha Jackson Jarvis has created mixed-media works that imaginatively retrace his journey from Virginia to South Carolina during the Revolutionary War. The result is a tour de force in abstract painting with 13 grandly scaled works on paper, and a focused group of smaller works inspired by the meditative form of the mandala.

Jackson Jarvis imagines her ancestor’s movements on foot across shifting terrains—venturing from home into thickets, waterways, weather, and bugs—through a landscape at once treacherous and verdant. She continues this body of work while meditating on the emotions from bravery to fear and serenity that Valentine may have felt on his journey during the Revolutionary War.

Co-curated by Leila Grothe, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, Cecilia Wichmann, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, and Jessica Bell Brown, Curator and Department Head for Contemporary Art