About the Artwork

Artwork by Marita Dingus at the Douglass-Truth Branch
Artwork by Marita Dingus at the Douglass-Truth Branch

Auburn artist Marita Dingus created copper wire sculptures of cherubs and sea grass for the branch. Artist Vivian Linder, who lives near the branch, created three-dimensional relief panels that depict her interpretation of Aztec, Mayan and Western African influences.

Returning to the branch are paintings of former slaves and abolitionists Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth by artist Eddie Ray Walker, which hung in the original building.

Also intact is the Soul Pole, a totem pole depicting African-American history given to the Library in 1972 by what was then called the Rotary Boys Club.

The Soul Pole is a 21-foot tall wooden sculpture depicting African-American history given to the Library in 1972 by what was then called the Rotary Boys Club. Six youth involved with the club, as well as the club’s art director, were involved in carving it.

Notice about the Soul Pole

The Soul Pole at the Douglass-Truth Branch
The Soul Pole at the Douglass-Truth Branch

The Soul Pole has stood tall at the Douglass-Truth Branch of The Seattle Public Library since 1972. For nearly 50 years, the artwork, which represents 400 years of African American history, has been admired by community members as it has watched over the neighborhood from the library’s front lawn.

But the wooden sculpture has also weathered many seasons and has deteriorated in condition. The Soul Pole now poses a safety hazard and was recently deinstalled for inspection and possible restoration.

The Library is working with Artech Fine Art Services on the project. Artech carefully deinstalled the sculpture in late April 2021 and transported it to an art storage facility, where a full assessment will be completed, including the potential for restoring the piece so the community can enjoy it once again.

The Library knows how important the Soul Pole is to our patrons and neighbors. It’s important to us, too. Look for updates on the project on this page.

The Library is also looking to find and contact the sculptors of the Soul Pole, who were teenagers at the time it was carved in the late 1960s and were associated with the Rotary Boys’ Club. You can read about its history in this news release.

If you have questions or information to share, please contact Andrew Harbison, interim director of Library Programs & Services, at Andrew.Harbison@spl.org.