Corita Kent an important figure in art

Corita Kent

Corita Kent

When we think of artists in this day and age, we don’t immediately think of the Catholic Church. When we think of the great artists of history we are more likely to consider that Michaelangelo was working in the Sistine Chapel for example. Perhaps that is what makes this feminist nun working through the revolutionary 1960s so intriguing to us. Corita Kent was celebrated across the net this week in what would have been her ninety-sixth birthday. She died in Boston in 1986 leaving a legacy in pop art. This famous figure was well known for her silkscreen work which took popular culture icons and mixed them with spiritual texts. In fact, she helped establish serigraphy as a fine art form.

love-stamp

Love stamp by Corita Kent.

Corita Kent spent most of her life in Los Angeles at the order of Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Throughout her time with the order, she obtained a graduate degree in Art History, teaching art and later becoming the chair of the art department at Immaculate Heart College over time. Her vision was avant-garde and she drew to her famous figures that came to study such as Alfred Hitchcock and Saul Bass. She is most noted for her work in designing the 1985 version of the LOVE U.S. Postal Stamp. It is iconic and carries the themes of love and peace that are so representative of her artwork.

Kent did not just use the writings from scripture as a basis in her artwork but also incorporated words from e.e. cummings and Gertrude Stein, among others. She would rearrange graphic elements from American consumerism, coupled with newspaper clippings, signage and even song lyrics. Wikipedia lists current exhibitions of her art in 2014 in Berlin and Paris, as well as Cleveland Ohio. Titles of the exhibitions are evocative, such as Let the Sun Shine In and Someday Is Now. Last year in 2013, there were at least a dozen exhibitions featuring Corita Kent’s work across the globe.

At the Corita Art Center, she is remembered with these words:

“Corita’s art reflects her spirituality, her commitment to social justice, her hope for peace, and her delight in the world that takes place all around us.”

Rainbow Swash artwork in Boston.

Rainbow Swash artwork in Boston.