Sarah Emerson will install a mural based on her own imaginary interpretation of Aokigahara, Japan’s forest, from March 11-22 at the Haskell Atrium Gallery in the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville.
MOCA Curator Ben Thompson is encouraging visitors to come to the museum and interact with Emerson while she is painting.
After 14 days of work, the three-wall mural will be complete to close the second season of Project Atrium. Emerson will give a presentation of her work at 2 p.m. March 22. The exhibit opens March 23 and continues through July 7.
Emerson’s mural “Underland” is a continuation of a series of paintings she has created based on the dark reality of Aokigahara, a forest in Japan that is a popular place for suicide. The rock is magnetized, sometimes compasses won’t work, and people get lost and can’t find their way out, Emerson said.
“I was really fascinated by this gray area, this natural place exists that can swallow people and embody this kind of journey that you might not get out of,” Emerson said. “It’s a nice parallel for the way I kind of view life, which is a very beautiful thing and then also very dark and scary at the same time.”
“Underland” has become a real narrative in my work with a sense of innocence and paradise lost, Emerson said. The mural will embody a gaping forest scene filled with trees, black holes, animals and imagery throughout.
“If anything I kind of want the viewer to feel a little innocence and corrupted at the same time,” Emerson said.
It’s a very dark subject that is rendered superficially, but it’s rendered in a very pleasant and colorful manner, Thompson said.
“I’m really excited to work with her because she is still relatively unknown,” Thompson said. “She has a following, but some of the artists we have presented are probably a little bit further along in their career, and she is still sort of on the ascent,” he said.
Project Atrium is a series devoted to promoting the work of an emerging or mid-career artist, Thompson said.
Also, Project Atrium is the only program in North Florida funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation, Thompson said. MOCA was awarded a multi-year commitment to fund the series, which will continue to further the advancement of artists and their work.