Corita Kent, To All of My Calling Your Name, 1962

Corita Kent – pop art nun: biography and best paintings

(Tame) Hummed Hopefully to Others 1966
(Tame) Hummed Hopefully to Others 1966

Corita Kent, née Francis Elizabeth Kent, who also refers to herself as sister Mary Corita, is an American nun, pop art artist, graphic designer and educator who has won worldwide recognition. The work of Corita Kent, predetermined by the events of the twentieth century, reflects a concern for the problems of poverty, racism and war. Her paintings, filled with the spirit of Christianity, love, peace and hopes for social justice, have become a powerful resonant message to contemporaries.

Corita Kent worked at the intersection of sometimes conflicting religious, political and cultural currents. For her belonging to a religious community, she was often called a pop art nun. But unlike the vow of obedience and black and white robes, her works were daring and sparkling, filled with colors and meanings.

Come Alive 1967
Come Alive 1967

Biography of Corita Kent

Corita Kent was born on November 20, 1918 with the name Francis Elizabeth Kent in Fort Dodge, Iowa, USA, in a poor working-class Catholic family. At the age of five, she moved with her parents to Los Angeles, which became her hometown. After graduating from a Catholic high school for girls at the age of 18, he joins the Order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, where he chooses a religious name for himself – Sister Mary Corita.

Alternating between study and work, for 15 years, from 1936 to 1951, Corita Kent graduated from the College of the Order, teaches children to read and write in British Columbia, receives a master’s degree at the art department of the University of Southern California, and is engaged in screen printing. The first success comes in 1952. Corita Kent’s painting The lord is with thee wins the Los Angeles print competition.

Dip, 1967
Dip, 1967

For the next decade, Korita teaches in college, from which she recently graduated, works hard in silk-screening techniques, makes posters and banners. Her reputation as an artist and teacher is growing. In 1964 she became the head of the art department.

Inspired by the work of Andy Warhol (Andy Warhol), Korita begins to use elements of pop art in his works. Skillfully combines images of consumer products with spiritual lines, words from songs, quotes from great people.

Enriched Bread, 1965
Enriched Bread, 1965

Against the background of the protracted Vietnam War, crises and upheavals of the second half of the twentieth century, her work is being politicized.

The works urge the audience to immerse themselves in complex themes of poverty, racism, and injustice. Newspaper headlines and speeches from anti-war pacifists serve as tools.

Corita’s popularity is growing. In 1966, the authoritative US newspaper The Los Angeles Times named Corita Kent Woman of the Year. A year later, she becomes the cover face of Newsweek’s Christmas issue. And a year later, tired of the busy schedule of teaching, exhibitions, performances and a new level of fame, she left the Order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and moved to Boston. Under the influence of social life and the new environment, a more rare, introspective style appears in Corita’s work. The largest work of this period is the rainbow-colored design of a 43-meter storage tank for the Boston Gas Company.

Handle with Care, 1967
Handle with Care, 1967

In 1974, Corita Kent was diagnosed with cancer. In the fight against the disease, she was forced to limit her artistic activities, she was engaged in art only when she believed that she could create something convincing. One of these works was the design of the 1985 US postage stamp Love.

Corita Kent died of cancer on September 18, 1986 at the age of 67.

Harness the Sun, 1967
Harness the Sun, 1967

The most famous paintings by Corita Kent

Corita Kent’s paintings are often exhibited in Western salons and galleries. Most are in permanent custody at the Corita Art Center and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. The most famous of them:

  1. Fish (1964) is a word written in large letters, expertly woven into the canvas of Luke’s story from the Gospel. It makes you think that the true goal is always more attractive, but not everyone can recognize it, noticing only a catchy and defiantly loud “fish”.
  2. “Stop the bombing” (1967) – a poster calling for peace, created during the Vietnam War.
  3. Pieta (1969) is an anti-extremism poster created after the assassination and assassination of Senator Kennedy in 1968.
  4. “The common dandelion” (1980) – a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet and philosopher, calls to move away from stereotypes, to see “the miraculous in the ordinary.”
  5. “Dancing star” (Dancing star; 1982) – the message to self-development and improvement is most accurately expressed in the words of Nietzsche: “you need to carry chaos within yourself in order to give birth to a dancing star.”
  6. Good for you (1984) is one of Corita’s many works, imbued with kindness and love.
Corita Kent, Life is a Complicated Business 1967
Life is a Complicated Business 1967
Corita Kent, Rainbow Swash 1971
Rainbow Swash 1971
Corita Kent, To All of My Calling Your Name, 1962
To All of My Calling Your Name, 1962
Corita Kent, Tomorrow the Stars, 1966
Tomorrow the Stars, 1966
Corita Kent, Tons of Fire, 1962
Tons of Fire, 1962
Corita Kent, Wet and Wild, 1967
Wet and Wild, 1967