Corita Kent - artist, designer, activist - gets her due

In my college years, and after first moving to Portland in 1980, my favorite artist, graphic designer, political activist and wise woman just happened to also be a Roman Catholic nun. Corita Kent blended her faith, political beliefs, art, graphic design, typography and sometimes the headlines of the day into some of the most recognizable, and unsung, imagery of the 1960's, 1970's and early 1980's. Now, over 20 years since her death in 1986, she is getting the attention I always personally felt she deserved as a female graphic communicator in what was primarily a good old boys' club.

Much of the renewed interest in Corita Kent comes with the release of the book Come Alive!: The Spirited Art of Corita Kent by Julie Ault. I was thrilled to learn of the book from a recent entry at UnBeige. That blurb led me to Lorraine Wild's piece, Sister Corita: The Juiciest Tomato, at Design Observer and Mark Kingsley's Speak Up article, Corita. (This is a fascinating woman who ended up on the cover of Newsweek back in 1967.)

With the London release of Come Alive!, from Four Corners, there was an exhibit of Corita's work at the Between Bridges gallery, which got the attention of The Guardian newspaper. Nun Like Her was the Creative Review response to the exhibition and book release. The exhibit, Sister Corita: The Joyous Revolutionary is currently available for touring and I do hope it gets more exposure in the U.S. Six Corita prints are part of the exhibit DISSENT!, on display at Harvard University's Fogg Art Museum through February 28, 2007.

If I sound a bit excited about the March release of this book, I am. As a designer new to the profession in the early 80's, I received a signed Corita as a gift and was able to purchase another from a gallery that would later end up selling my own silkscreen efforts. Each morning I wake up to the graphic representation of the Corita Kent quote, "Life is a succession of moments, to live each one is to succeed." There's a bit of irony that my other Kent piece, Yes #3 (a large red heart over the word "love"), went to the other party when I got divorced in 1985.

Today the Immaculate Heart Community is the home to the Corita Art Center. The center's online presence includes an archive of Corita Kent's serigraphs and pieces for sale. The U.S. release of the book Come Alive! is currently available for pre-sale.

Update - 05.22.07: I just got the book for myself with a birthday gift card. It's an incredible resource for anyone interested in the work of Corita Kent. I would highly recommend it.

Print image © The Corita Art Center

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

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