One Spark Creator-#ProjectAtrium

Shaun Thurston, the artist who has been transforming walls all over Jacksonville, has taken over the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Haskell Atrium Gallery for his latest work, Project Atrium: One Spark.
For several weeks, MOCA hinted at the identity of the “Mystery Artist” who has entered his work in the One Spark crowdfunding festival April 9-13. Thurston officially started painting in the Haskell Atrium Gallery on March 19. Unlike other Project Atrium exhibitions, Thurston is working behind a giant curtain to keep the artwork cloaked in secrecy until its big reveal at 7:45 pm April 9.
For the inaugural One Spark in 2013, Thurston entered a project called 20 Murals in a Year, pledging to those who voted for him that he would use the crowdfunding money to cover the city in art. He placed fourth overall and earned about $4,100, which helped pay for materials. Project Atrium: One Spark is the culmination of that project.
As a way of continuing to pay it forward, Thurston is donating half of any One Spark crowdfunding money for Project Atrium back to MOCA to give future artists the same opportunity he received.
In the year around the first One Spark, Thurston completed murals in Five Points, Riverside, Jacksonville Beach, the Northside, the Southside and Downtown. He completed four satellite murals as studies leading up to Project Atrium: 937 Main St., 1100 Main St., 632 W. Forsyth St. and 801 W.Forsyth St. The walls popped up around downtown as a link between Thurston’s street aesthetic and the formal museum space, a connection between the community and MOCA, and an invitation to come inside. He said the approach, material, and environment dictated the style of each satellite as well as the atrium mural. Thurston also completed four large panels that will be exhibited in MOCA.
Although he will work behind a curtain to create an element of surprise, he said he’s keenly aware of the pressure — from the public, other artists, himself — of exhibiting in MOCA.
“I feel the weight of their expectations,” Thurston said before starting the project. “I want to do the art community proud with what I’m going to do.”
His murals have become Northeast Florida landmarks, from the floating islands above Chamblin’s Uptown in downtown Jacksonville to the 150-foot-wide fig tree gracing the outside of The Blind Fig in Riverside.
Born in 1979 in Jacksonville, Thurston attended Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville and Florida School of the Arts in Palatka. He moved to Atlanta for a stint in 2007 and left his mark: three walls in The Argosy gastropub in East Atlanta Village, a giant cobra in Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School’s gym, an Oakhurst Community Garden mural for the first Living Walls conference, a fox and dragon wall outside of The Argosy, as well as a few street spots he scribbled on that haven’t been covered.
Be sure to stop by MOCA Jacksonville during One Spark and see Project Atrium: One Spark. MOCA will be open Wed 11 am-9 pm, Thur-Sat 11 am-10 pm, Sun 11 am-5 pm.

About Joanelle Mulrain