Creativity belongs to the artist in each of us. To create means to relate. The root meaning of the word art is ‘to fit together’ and we all do this every day.

Corita Kent

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Prints by Sister Mary Corita Kent

Corita Kent was a revolutionary artist and teacher who elevated pop art beyond the scope of popular culture and used its language and aesthetics to engage with religion, community, politics and literature. For over thirty years, Kent created work as striking and important as her more-famous contemporary counterparts like Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha and Roy Lichtenstein, espousing a message of love, wholeness, and presence. 

Image courtesy of the Corita Art Center

At the age of eighteen, Kent became a nun, joining the Immaculate Heart of Mary order in Hollywood in 1936. Over the next three decades, she became a progressive beacon of the order, heading the art department, staging “happenings,” and engaging the young women there in creativity and the wider cultural landscape more than was customary or acceptable at the time. She encouraged artistic exploration, deep connection and using the democratic medium of printmaking to champion these values. She brought people like Charles Eames and John Cage to Immaculate Heart to speak to students and she made powerful commentaries on the political and ethical dilemmas of the era. 

Kent in the studio with her students at Immaculate Heart. Image courtesy of the Corita Art Center.

Kent's style was inspired by the prevailing pop artists of the time but was also, unlike the broad, critiquing eye of pop art, incredibly personal, sincere and spiritual. Her most well-known works combine psalm-like language, pulled from both her Catholic beliefs and advertisements alike, stylized text, and striking, colorful graphics. Kent saw the endless possibilities of re-assembling and re-shuffling text to be “a huge game, a way of confronting mystery.” After leaving the order in 1968, Kent continued to create work iconic to the era and its spirit, suffusing it with her rapturous, humanistic voice. 

Can't we just keep it simple: Love one another and do good?

Corita Kent