Corita Kent (November 20, 1918 – September 18, 1986), born Frances Elizabeth Kent and also known as Sister Mary Corita Kent, was an American Roman Catholic religious sister, artist, designer and educator. Key themes in her work included Christianity, and social justice. She was also a teacher at the Immaculate Heart College.
Corita was born Frances Elizabeth Kent on November 20th in the year of 1918. At 18 years of age Kent entered the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart, which were known to be very progressive and welcomed creativity. Frances joined a teaching order, taking the name Sister Mary Corita. Initially she taught young children on an Inuit Reservation in British Columbia until returning to Los Angeles to study for her bachelor’s degree at Immaculate Heart College and her master’s degree at University of Southern California. She was the head of the art department at Immaculate Heart College. where she also taught a wide variety of different painting styles. Her artwork contained her own spiritual expression and love for her God.
Sister Corita Kent’s primary medium was silk screen, also known as Serigraphy. She became self-taught after she sent away for a DIY silk screening kit. Her innovative methods pushed back the limitations of two-dimensional media of the times. Kent’s emphasis on printing was partially due to her wish for democratic outreach, as she wished for affordable art for the masses. Her artwork, with its messages of love and peace, was particularly popular during the social upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s. After a cancer diagnosis in the early 1970s, she entered an extremely prolific period in her career, including the Rainbow Swash design on the LNG storage tank in Boston, and the 1985 version of the United States Postal Service’s special Love stamp.
In recent years, Corita has gained increased recognition for her role in the pop art movement. Critics and theorists previously failed to count her work as part of any mainstream “canon,” but in the last few years there has been a resurgence of attention given to Kent. As both a nun and a woman making art in the twentieth century, she was in many ways cast to the margins of the different movements she was a part of.
Corita’s art was her activism, and her spiritually-informed social commentary promoted love and tolerance.
Her classes at Immaculate Heart were an avant-garde mecca for prominent, ground-breaking artists and inventors, such as Alfred Hitchcock, John Cage, Saul Bass, Buckminster Fuller and Charles & Ray Eames. Kent credited Charles Eames, Buckminster Fuller, and art historian Dr. Alois Schardt for their important roles in her intellectual and artistic growth. .. Her students were drawn to her selflessness and unique teaching methods
..Kent’s work became increasingly political, addressing events such as the Vietnam War and humanitarian crises. For example, she was commissioned by the Physicians for Social Responsibility to create what she called “we can create life without war” billboards. Tensions between the order and church leadership were mounting, .. labeling the college as “communist” and Kent’s work as “blasphemous.” Due to this, Kent returned to secular life in 1968 as Corita Kent. Most sisters followed suit and the Immaculate Heart College closed in 1980. Corita Kent also embraced the many different revolutionary movements going on in the world at this time. These movements included the anti-Vietnam War movement, Civil Rights, and Women’s Rights.
Corita Kent worked at the intersection of several powerful—and at times contradictory—cultural, political, and religious influences. Corita Kent, inspired by the works of Andy Warhol, began using popular culture as raw material for her work in 1962. Her screen prints often incorporated archetypical product brands of American consumerism alongside spiritual texts. Her design process involved appropriating an original advertising graphic to suit her idea; for example, she would tear, rip, or crumple the image, then re-photograph it. She often used grocery store signage, texts from scripture, newspaper clippings, song lyrics, and writings from literary greats such as Gertrude Stein, E. E. Cummings, and Albert Camus as the textual focal point of her work.
feels like my craziness
E.E. Cummings was one of Kent’s earliest and strongest influences. She quotes him in her work separately more than a dozen times and was inspired by a line from one of his lectures to create an entire series of alphabet prints. In her 1966 piece Tame It’s Not, she uses quotes from Winnie the Pooh, Kierkegaard, and an ad slogan for men’s cologne. Using everyday consumer items, like Wonderbread, she was able to bring words and thoughts about her religion to a familiar product that people saw and used everyday. By creating juxtaposition between formally acknowledged or respected “art” and the art Corita saw in her everyday world—at the supermarket, on a walk, in the classroom—she elevated the banal to the holy. “Like a priest, a shaman, a magician, she could pass her hands over the commonest of the everyday, the superficial, the oh-so-ordinary, and make it a vehicle of the luminous, the only, and the hope filled,” noted Corita’s friend, theologian Harvey Cox.
Corita’s earliest work was mostly iconographic, drawing inspiration and material from the Bible and other religious sources. Her style is heavily text-based, with scripture passages or positive quotes often encompassing entire compositions with bold and highly saturated typefaces. Despite the often surreal or disorienting compositions of her works, her pieces are “always about something.” By the 1960s, her work started becoming increasingly political. For example, her silkscreen print, stop the bombing (1967) is a large piece protesting the use of nuclear weaponry in bold, blue letters against a white and red background.
Her collages took popular images, often with twisted or reversed words, to comment on the political unrest of the period, many of which could have been found at any number of marches or demonstrations, some of which she attended herself.
oh my.. love her artwork/style.. so resonating..
happened on her when googling origination (ha) of ‘everything as experiment’
images below just from googling corita kent images
on why leap ness
Whether it will ever be recognizable by anyone else I don’t know, but I feel that great new things are happening very quietly inside of me. And I know these things have a way, like the maple tree, of finally bursting out in some form.”
—Corita Kent https://t.co/tkgGhkjVu0
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/austinkleon/status/1572927386492047361