For women’s history month, I will be looking at four female artists who use or used screen printing as one of the mediums for their art. The first artist in this series is Corita Kent.
Corita Kent (1918–1986), also known as Sister Mary Corita, was an artist, educator, and activist who used her screen printing skills to create vibrant pieces of art. At the age of 18, she joined the religious order Immaculate Heart of Mary, and eventually taught and ran the art department at the Immaculate Heart College.
In the early 1950’s, Sister Corita began screen printing – her work evolved from figurative and religious to incorporating advertising images and slogans, popular song lyrics, biblical verses, and literature. Throughout the ‘60s, her work became increasingly political, urging viewers to consider poverty, racism, and injustice. Her screen prints often incorporated archetypical product brands of American consumerism alongside spiritual texts. Her design process involved appropriating an original advertising graphic to suit her idea; for example, she would tear, rip, or crumble the image, then re-photograph it. She often used grocery store signage, texts from scripture, newspaper clippings, song lyrics, and writings from literary greats as the textual focal point of her work.
After 1970, her work evolved into a sparser, introspective style, influenced by living in a new environment in Boston, a secular life, and her battles with cancer. In 1985, she was commissioned by the USPS to create the Love stamp. She also remained active in social causes until her death in 1986. At the time of her death, she had created almost 800 serigraph editions, thousands of watercolors, and innumerable public and private commissions. Sister Corita’s friend, theologian Harvey Cox, noted, “Like a priest, a shaman, a magician, she could pass her hands over the commonest of the everyday, the superficial, the oh-so-ordinary, and make it a vehicle of the luminous, the only, and the hope filled.”
In 1997, the Immaculate Heart Community formed the Corita Art Center to honor Sister Corita’s legacy. Since then, her art has been shown in several exhibitions, and her art is shown on permanent display in almost 100 museums. Please visit the Corita Art Center’s website for more information on Sister Corita and her story, and consider following and supporting their work to keep Sister Corita’s art and story alive!
Below are several of Sister Corita’s prints – all images and information sourced from the Corita Art Center.
“About Corita.” Corita Art Center, www.corita.org/about/corita.
“Corita Kent: Spiritual Pop.” The Portland Art Museum, portlandartmuseum.org/exhibitions/corita-kent/.
“Someday Is Now: The Art of Corita Kent.” The Warhol, www.warhol.org/exhibition/someday-now-art-corita-kent/.