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Power Up: Serigraphs by Corita Kent
March 3 - April 30, 2008
The Thacher Gallery at the University of San Francisco is presenting "Power Up: Serigraphs by Corita Kent" from March 3 to April 30, 2008.
Corita Kent gained international fame for her vibrant text serigraphs during the 1960s and 1970s. These works exemplify the bold, flower-power aesthetics and social messages of the period and have new found relevance today. With "Power Up," the Thacher Gallery will present a retrospective of works held by the Corita Art Center in the Immaculate Heart Community in Los Angeles and other private collections.
A sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary until 1968, Kent's art reflects her spirituality, her commitment to social justice, her hope for peace and her delight in "the world that takes place around all of us."
In Kent's posters, pop art meets agitprop art through splashes of color, the use of familiar advertising logos, and thought-provoking texts that protest the Vietnam war, racism, and corporate greed. Even so, the serigraphs remain playful and bright. From her uses of the Wonder Bread packaging to her 1985 "Love Stamp" designed for the U.S. postal service, her work is so much a part of the era that it has a deeply familiar feeling to it.
The Thacher Gallery will kick-off this exhibition with a discussion of Corita Kent's work by two of USF's new graphic design faculty, Stuart McKee and Amy Franceschini, as well as the Education Coordinator the Corita Art Center, Sasha Carrera.
"Power Up: Serigraphs by Corita Kent" is on loan
from the Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles, CA.
Limited edition serigraphs, watercolors and reproductions are available
at the Corita Art Center, Immaculate
Heart Community, Los Angeles, CA.
Introductory text for the exhibition
During the 1960's and 1970's, Corita Kent gained international fame for her vibrant text serigraphs exemplified by the bold, flower-power aesthetics and social messages of the time. Recognizing these same works' new-found relevance today, "Power Up" presents a retrospective of Corita's prints with a focus on this important period.
Frances Elizabeth Kent (1918-1986) grew up in Hollywood. At the age of 18, she entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary Religious Community and took the name Sister Mary Corita. She received a Masters in Art History from the University of Southern California in 1951, the same year she learned serigraphy (silkscreen or screenprinting), a technique that at the time was most commonly used by sign makers. In the opening essay in Come Alive!, artist and curator, Julie Ault writes, "For Corita, wide distribution was a populist and Christian principle that determined her choice of artistic medium."
Corita's art consistently reflects her spirituality, her commitment to social justice, her hope for peace and her delight in "the world that takes place around all of us." As inspiration, Corita drew from her urban Los Angeles surroundings. Her innovative techniques included cut and paste, photography, and collage.
When she began her art career in the mid-1950's, Corita's pallet was muted and her subjects focused on scriptural themes. By the early 1960's her colors had become bold and her subjects socially challenging. By the mid-1960's, her sources ranged from billboards and photographic images of current events to literary quotations by Rilke and Whitman.
Her many uses of text and typography, along with her appropriation of advertising design, became her signature. In Corita's posters of this era, pop art meets agitprop art through splashes of color and thought-provoking texts that protest the Vietnam war, racism, and corporate greed. Although she was an admired teacher at the Immaculate Heart, her art and its contemporary subject matter at times drew criticism from conservative Catholic leaders.
In 1968, Corita left her religious community and moved to Boston. Here, with her sister's help, she pursued a successful commercial career, creating commissions and designs for a wide array of clients, from the George McGovern presidential campaign to the United Farm Workers, from the World Council of Churches to Revlon. Her later pieces combine handwriting, simple paint strokes and plain, uplifting statements.
Work meant everything to Corita and she continued to create art and evolve stylistically until her death in 1986. From her early uses of Wonder Bread packaging to her 1985 U.S. postal "Love Stamp," her works reflect the sensibilities of their times that they have a deeply familiar feeling to them.
-- Glori Simmons
Information drawn from "Come Alive!" by Julie Ault
About the author
Glori Simmons is Associate Director, Thacher Gallery.
Resource Library editor's note
Readers may also enjoy:
Sister Corita was aired March 03, 2007. American Public Media says "When you think about pop art and counter culture, in all likelihood, you don't immediately think of a convent in Los Angeles in the 1960s. Sister Corita Kent was a nun at the Immaculate Heart Convent in Los Angeles, as well as a teacher in the art department at the Immaculate Heart College. She was also an artist whose screen prints garnered world-wide attention. At one point she was on the cover of Newsweek. But she was also criticized by conservative Catholics, including the archbishop of the Los Angeles archdiocese. Sister Corita Kent left the convent at the height of her fame but continued to live a fascinating life. Weekend America host Bill Radke visits the Corita Art Center in Los Angeles to learn more about her life and see some of her work."
and these books:
Come Alive!: The Spirited Art of Sister Corita, by Julie Ault, 128 pages. Publisher: Four Corners Books (March 1, 2007) ISBN-10: 0954502523, ISBN-13: 978-0954502522. Amazon.com's Book Description says:
(right: front cover, Come Alive!: The Spirited Art of Sister Corita)
Learning by Heart: Teaching to Free the Creative Spirit, by Corita Kent and Jan Steward, 240 pages. Publisher: Allworth Press; 2Rev Ed edition (May 27, 2008) ISBN-10: 1581156472, ISBN-13: 978-1581156478. Amazon.com's Book Description says:
(right: front cover, Learning by Heart: Teaching to Free the Creative Spirit)
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