Drawing inspiration where there is “nun”

make lovemake peace

Prints Jane and I acquired early in our marriage

In 1936 an 18-year-old female confronted roadblocks in the workplace similar to those that continue to inhibit women’s careers a century later. In a poignant twist, Frances Elizabeth Kent’s solution to her dilemma—entering the Los Angeles convent of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary despite lacking a sense of strong religious conviction—resulted in the creation of a rich and lasting legacy.

Other than stirring a generalized sense of empathy for Frances Kent—better known as Sister Mary Corita, my appreciation for her work would have been diminished but for a second “plot” twist. Shortly after taking her vows, the future “rebel nun” was assigned to LA’s Immaculate Heart College as a professor of art. Coincidentally, my wife Jane had the good fortune of attending the convent’s adjoining high school during Corita’s tenure. I had known Jane only a short time before she told me how Corita’s unique and provocative art had positively influenced her.

Corita’s bold, silkscreen provocations dramatized through vivid color and advertising slogan snippets—virtual banners for the late sixties’ love, peace, and anti-war movement—gain renewed significance through an ongoing exhibit, which we took in earlier today, at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, 490 E. Union Street. The full-scale survey of her work, Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent, runs through November 1.

For more information on the exhibit, see http://pmcaonline.org/exhibitions/someday-is-now-the-art-of-corita-kent/. Those interested in Corita might want to read Corita Kent. Art and Soul. The Biography by April Dammann (Angel City Press).

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