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Catalog: SPRING 2007 p. 62   

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St. Ives
Tate St. Ives, 06/26/07-09/23/07

"The joy in her work, its riotous color, was her gift to a good gray world. It seemed as though in her art the juices of the world were running over, inundating the world, bursting the rotten wineskins of semblance, rote, and rot.... one emotion seemed denied to Catholics.... they needed joy, joy, joy! Corita Kent had it in abundance. She gave it, pressed down, flowing over."

Daniel Berrigan

  

Come Alive!: The Spirited Art of Sister Corita

Text by Julie Ault, Daniel Berrigan.

At 18, Corita Kent (1918-86) entered the Roman Catholic order of Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Angeles, where she taught art and eventually ran the art department. After more than 30 years, at the end of the 1960s, she left the order to devote herself to making her own work. Over a 35-year career she made watercolors, posters, books and banners--and most of all, serigraphs--in an accessible and dynamic style that appropriated techniques from advertising, consumerism and graffiti. The earliest, which she began showing in 1951, borrowed phrases and depicted images from the Bible; by the 1960s, she was using song lyrics and publicity slogans as raw material. Eschewing convention, she produced cheap, readily available multiples, including a postage stamp. Her work was popular but largely neglected by the art establishment--though it was always embraced by such design luminaries as Charles and Ray Eames, Buckminster Fuller and Saul Bass. More recently, she has been increasingly recognized as one of the most innovative and unusual Pop artists of the 1960s, battling the political and religious establishments, revolutionizing graphic design and making some of the most striking--and joyful--American art of her era, all while living and practicing as a Catholic nun. This first study of her work, organized by Julie Ault on the 20th anniversary of Kent's death, with essays by Ault and Daniel Berrigan, is the first to examine this important American outsider artist's life and career, and contains more than 90 illustrations, many of which are reproduced for the first time, in vibrant, and occasionally Day-Glo, color.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS

Frieze

Martin Hebert

the bright billboards of California’s freshly invented media landscape were Corita’s chief inspiration; this places her in a continuum of religious artists... who have recognized that faith, when argued for visually, works well when grounded in the everyday. If Corita looks good to non-believers, it is because she pulls from her belief a blend of sunny optimism, delectation of reality and general sense of purpose

America: The National Catholic Review

Suzanne Wielgos

one of the most outspoken and well-known activists within the Catholic Church during the turbulent 1960s. Corita Kent, once known as Sister Mary Corita, I.H.M., never backed down from her desire to call people to the simplicity of the Gospel through revolutionary art…. Would the canon of modern art recognize a woman—and a woman religious at that—for contributions that equal those of her contemporary, Andy Warhol?

Come Alive!: The Spirited Art of Sister Corita

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Come Alive! The Spirited Art of Sister Corita

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Let's hear it for the fiery Catholic nun who led the non-violent, left-wing political charge via social activism and her own screen-printed hippie-Pop protest posters in the 1960s! Operating out of the art department of Immaculate Heart College, Los Angeles, Sister Corita has influenced generations of artists, designers and those who march. "If we separate ourselves from the great arts of our time, we cannot be leaven enriching our society from within. We may well be peripheral to our society – unaware of its pains and joys, unable to communicate with it, to benefit from it or to help it. We will be refusing to care about the fight to free man that James Baldwin speaks of: 'The war of an artist with his society is a lover’s war. And he does at his best, what lovers do, which is to reveal the beloved to himself, and with that revelation, make freedom real.'" Sister Corita is fourth from the left in this picture of the serigraphy workshop at IHC. continue to blog


FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG

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Come Alive! The Spirited Art of Sister Corita

Come Alive! The Spirited Art of Sister Corita

Get with the action
Wine that rejoyces man's heart
Powerful enough to make a difference
For emergency use soft shoulder


Half a century after this 1966 serigraph poster was printed, the Spirited Art of Sister Corita feels more relevant than ever. For anyone and everyone looking for protest graphics inspiration right now, there's no better place to start. continue to blog


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