Artist Projects

The Garden Wall

Martha Jackson-Jarvis

The Garden Wall explores African slave architecture’s scale and building techniques, including tabby, a building material used by early African American and Caribbean slaves in which seashells are crushed and embedded in cement for structural strength and also used as a built-in measure of protection from outsiders and from the harsh natural environment. Layered in the garden pantheon is a crow image; the emblem of mysterious outsiders, crows emerge out of lore, legend, and stereotype as compelling allegorical figures in African-American life and landscape. Using a composite of materials, The Garden Wall project incorporates photographs from the archives of the historic Penn Papers and from the archives of the Museum of the Confederacy. These historic photographs are placed into a permanent exterior metal enamel on the façade of tabby and mosaic walls. The Garden Wall reveals an authentic narrative that is inextricably linked to the land and the cultures imprinted and encoded there.