Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963–1983 celebrates art made by Black artists during two pivotal decades when issues of race and identity dominated and defined both public and private discourse. The de Young’s presentation of this acclaimed exhibition includes a focus on Bay Area artists whose work promoted personal and cultural pride, collective solidarity and empowerment, and political and social activism.
Below is a selection of works of art featured in the exhibition that have a special connection to the San Francisco Bay Area and, specifically, to Rainbow Sign, a major Black cultural center in Berkeley.
Rainbow Sign was located at 2640 Grove Street in Berkeley and was active between the years of 1971 and 1977. Directed by the charismatic activist and impresario Mary Ann Pollar, and with contributions from curator E. J. Montgomery, Rainbow Sign presented visionary Black leaders including artists Elizabeth Catlett, Betye Saar, and Romare Bearden; singer Nina Simone; writers James Baldwin and Alex Haley; poet Maya Angelou; activist Huey P. Newton; and politician Shirley Chisholm to local audiences.