Sargent Claude Johnson–California School for the Blind Commission

Posted on Mon., March 18, 2024

In 1933, Sargent Johnson began a monumental architectural installation for the California School for the Blind in Berkeley. It was commissioned by the federally sponsored Public Works of Art Project—part of the New Deal. Johnson carved and decorated large redwood sculptures in a dramatic Art Deco style that were installed in the school’s auditorium, where students staged musical and theatrical performances.

When the school moved to a new campus, the surviving pieces were dispersed. Now belonging to four institutions—The Huntington, the California School for the Blind, the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, and UC Berkeley—the various parts of the commission were reunited for the first time in over four decades.

More about the exhibition