Corita Kent (1918–1986) was an artist, educator, and advocate for social justice. At age 18, she entered the religious order Immaculate Heart of Mary. After teaching art at Immaculate Heart College for many years, she became the chair of the art department in 1964. While her first prints consisted of dense, figurative compositions with religious themes and iconography, by 1962 her work evolved into a singular mode of Pop art. Reflecting a wide breadth of disciplinary interests, her bright compositions were not limited to the staple imagery and language of consumer and mass culture but also integrated philosophy, literature, street signage, scripture, and song lyrics in bold text and abstract forms.
Throughout the ‘60s, her work became increasingly political, urging viewers to consider poverty, racism, and social injustice. In 1968, she sought dispensation from her vows and moved to Boston following mounting pressure from the conservative Archdiocese of Los Angeles, as well as exhaustion from her increasingly public profile. After 1970, her work evolved into a sparser, introspective style, influenced by living in a new environment, a secular life, and her battles with cancer. She remained active in social causes until her death in 1986. At the time of her death, she had created almost 800 screenprint editions, thousands of watercolors, and innumerable public and private commissions.
Corita Kent’s work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Ludwig Museum, Cologne; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England; mumok, Vienna; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Frac Ile-de-France, Paris; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, among others. Notable exhibitions include: Corita Kent: Get With The Action, Ditchling Museum of Art+Craft, Ditchling, England (2019); Corita Kent and the Language of Pop, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA (2015); Someday is Now, Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs, NY (2013); People Like Us: Prints from the 1960s by Sister Corita, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany (2007).