Duane Deterville

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Duane Deterville is a visual artist, writer and scholar of visual culture. His area of expertise is African and Afro-diasporic visual culture. As the co-founder of Sankofa Cultural Institute, he was the creative director of three symposiums on jazz history and has lectured widely on the topic of jazz and visual culture at galleries, museums, universities and colleges. Deterville was an invited speaker for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s 75th anniversary event “75 Reasons to Live” and is an alumni columnist for SFMOMA’s “Open Space” blog. He is the co-author of “Black Artists in Oakland,” a visual history published by Arcadia Publishing. Most recently he co-founded the Oakland Maroons Art Collective and is currently one of several cultural theorists working in the Future of Soul Think Tank at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. He holds an MA in Visual and Critical Studies from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

For well over two decades, Oakland, California native Refa One has been instrumental in the development of the innovative, unorthodox genre of art known as “Aerosol Art” (Graffiti Art/Writing). Refa One’s refined, self-styled calligraphy has earned him international acclaim amongst Spray Can Artists and enthusiasts alike. A lifetime of involvement in hip hop culture combined with his radical political awareness has translated into a successful career as a Spray Can calligrapher, muralist, illustrator, activist, and educator. Refa One’s design aesthetic reflects his belief in hip hop culture as a vehicle for radical political and social change. His pieces are maps of visions and reflection, capturing the intellectual value and heritage of the common urban vernacular in his work. His themes materialize in the fusion of his unique Hip Hop Calligraphy and his use of eclectic, cultural iconography. The end result is a multitude of powerful works that engage the spirit, intellect, and imagination.

Artist Statement

The wall drawing piece titled Shango is a collaboration between Oakland Maroons Art Collective members Duane Deterville and Refa One. The wall piece is a synthesis of both the African diasporic ritual ground drawing/writing tradition and the African diasporic graffiti writing tradition. Deterville has created several ground drawing installation pieces in remembrance of people who have joined the ancestors and as the founding curator of the Aerosoul annual international graffiti artist show Refa One has been a key catalyst in the advancement of the African diasporic graffiti art tradition. Shango is reflective of the many African diasporic religious and spiritual spaces here in the Bay Area. Those alternative spaces are sometimes the living spaces of priestesses or priests of Haitian Vodun, Brazilian Umbanda, Cuban Lucumi and Santeria. The Yoruba spirit/Orisha called Shango is present in many of the African diasporic spiritual practices. He is the spirit of lightning, thunder, the drums, justice and retribution.

Exhibited Work


Spray paint and marker on panels
20’ x 8’ (size varies upon installation)

About this Article

This article was originally created as part of SOMArts Cultural Center's Making a Scene: 50 Years of Alternative Bay Area Spaces. To learn how to add or edit content please visit the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism's online History Collection Lab.