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Project Atrium: Sarah Emerson

Sarah Emerson, Black Sea of Trees, 2013, acrylic paint on wall. Installation view at MOCA Jacksonville's Haskell Atrium. Photo: Doug Eng. Courtesy of MOCA Jacksonville.

Sarah Emerson, Black Sea of Trees, 2013, acrylic paint on wall. Installation view at MOCA Jacksonville's Haskell Atrium. Photo: Doug Eng. Courtesy of MOCA Jacksonville.

Museum of Contemporary Art – Jacksonville

By Suzanne Cohen

At Museum of Contemporary Art’s Haskell Atrium Gallery, Sarah Emerson has created her mural, Black Sea of Trees. This work is part of the series “Underland” that the artist has been working on for several years. The pieces in this series, explore the relationship between the landscape and the crisis of values in today’s world. Using the impressive scale of the gallery, the artist fills the walls with a scene of devastation and catastrophe. A black river flows down from the mountains, dragging trees and human beings in its wake. The enormous scale of the piece helps to underscore the overwhelming power of nature. The mural documents an imaginary landscape through which Emerson visually explores the loss of beauty and innocence in today’s world. In an ironic gesture, the artist integrates the words SAFE & SOUND in large letters within the composition, a message that contrasts with the scene of devastation inspired by the BP oil spill on the Gulf Coast in 2010. Through this scene, the artist refers us to the epic battle for coexistence between human beings and nature.

In contrast to her vibrant and iridescent landscapes of past years, the pieces in the “Underland” series display a much darker palette.

Through July 7, 2013.

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