Corita Kent, a former nun turned artist, is someone who is often overlooked when it comes to discussing influential artists of the 20th century. However, her impact on the world of art and activism cannot be understated. In fact, she is a bit of a hero to many – certainly to me.
Kent was born in Iowa in 1918 and entered the Order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Angeles in 1936. After studying art at Immaculate Heart College, Kent went on to teach art at the same institution. It was during her time at Immaculate Heart College that Kent began to use her artwork as a way to express her political and social beliefs. It may seem a bit weird, a man like myself, looking up to a Nun; but it is because of her strong beliefs I do so. In many ways, she had answers to questions that I ask.
Whilst this is exchanging one set of problems for another (faith / doubt, longing / acceptance) it is Kent’s values that I aspire to.
Kent’s work is known for its use of bold colors and typography, and her messages of peace and social justice are often incorporated into her pieces. Some of her most well-known works are her serigraphs, which are silk-screen prints that she used to create posters for various protests and demonstrations.
Kent’s art was not only visually stunning, but it also had a powerful message behind it. Her work tackled issues such as war, poverty, and civil rights. In the 1960s, she became heavily involved in the anti-war movement and used her art as a way to protest the Vietnam War. Her posters and prints were seen at rallies and demonstrations all over America.
Kent’s influence extended beyond the world of art. She was a trailblazer in many ways, including being one of the first women to design a United States Postal Service stamp. She also played a key role in the development of the “love” stamp, which featured a graphic design of the word “love” in bold letters.
Despite her impact on the art world and her activism, Kent’s contributions have often been overlooked. This is perhaps due to the fact that she was a woman and a nun, two identities that were not often associated with the world of art and politics in the mid-20th century. However, in recent years, there has been a renewed interest in Kent’s work and legacy.
Kent’s art continues to inspire artists and activists today. Her messages of peace and social justice are just as relevant today as they were when she first created them. Kent’s willingness to use her art as a tool for social change is something that we can all learn from. She was a true hero, and her legacy deserves to be celebrated.