Rainbow Power - CODAworx

Rainbow Power

Client: City of Oakland

Location: Oakland, CA, United States

Completion date: 2019

Artwork budget: $130,000

Project Team


Johanna Poethig

Project Manager

Kristin Zaremba

Oakland Public Art Program, Cultural Affairs Division, Economic Workforce Development Department


Art and science come together in glass mosaic that spans the 13′ x 65′ walls of Oakland’s Rainbow Recreation Center entrance. A rainbow landscape inspired by the surface of bubbles creates a colorful backdrop for figures. The figures are based on photographs of youth that are connected through their gestures. Reflection, refraction and diffraction are all boundary behaviors of waves associated with the bending of the path of a wave. This is what creates rainbows. The wavelengths connect the figures in a metaphor for the sharing of our ideas, culture and friendship. Culture interacts with the individual like light refracting through glass or water. Going back to the work of Morrie Turner for whom this recreation center is named this is an homage to the phrase that he coined “Rainbow Power”.


The Rainbow Recreation Center serves the East Oakland community with recreational activities for all ages. As part of an extensive renovation project to replace most of the facility Johanna Poethig was commissioned by the City of Oakland Public Art Program to craft a glass mosaic mural that is both colorful and reminiscent of the surrounding community. "Rainbow Power,’ was designed to integrate with the architecture of the building, which includes an archway and rainbow reflections using refractive and reflective material in the windows and skylights. The combination of science and culture is unique to this artwork as it brings into focus the way architecture, art, science, life systems and diverse cultures intersect.


The artist engaged with local community through the selection panel deliberations and workshops with summer camp participants from the Rainbow Recreation and Digital Arts & Culinary Academy. As part of the blend of science and portraiture ARTAIC Mosaic was selected to fabricated the design in digitally produced glass mosaic to create a contemporary pixelated effect. Johanna Poethig developed the design through photography, drawing, computer renderings, Artaic design programs and manually on site to perfect the detail and bring an emotional quality to the work.

Additional Information

The categories provided on this website separate disciplines like science and culture. My work seeks to reveal the connections between humans and their world.