In our Mural Spotlight series, we take a look at some of the creative new murals that have popped up around Jacksonville’s urban core in recent years. (Know of a mural we should feature? Email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org)
When coming across the Hart Bridge into downtown Jacksonville, a larger-than-life mural painted on a cement storage silo stands out amongst the drab shipyards of Talleyrand Avenue.
Located on a storage silo at Lafarge North America Cement’s local terminal along Talleyrand, the mural depicts two young human rights activists, Connell Crooms and Sara Mahmoud, that Van Helten met at a protest in downtown Jacksonville. It depicts the two activists in muted colors, looking down and to the side, covering almost the entire length of the silo structure.
According to a post on his Instagram account, Van Helten’s goal was to capture subjects that offered a “representation of the soul of the city.”
Crooms, a Black- and Deaf-rights activist, later became well-known to Jax residents as one-fifth of the “Jax 5” who were charged for their role in a 2017 protest that turned violent; charges against Crooms were later dropped, and he sued Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for police brutality in 2018. He has since run for multiple local political offices.
Mahmoud, an advocate for Palestinian rights, had previously made headlines for starting a hashtag movement promoting self-confidence for Middle Eastern women.
Van Helten, known for his hyper-realistic mural paintings, has completed similar projects in cities throughout the world, including several other silo murals. The mural’s location on the side of a cement silo is representative of the recent “silo art” movement, which grew to prominence in Van Helten’s home country of Australia.
Next time you cross the Hart Bridge, be sure to take a glance at the shipyards to the east. You’ll see one of Jacksonville’s largest and most intricate murals, designed by an international artist with the heart of our city in mind.