Friday, May 19, 2017


Corita (center right) at Immaculate Heart College Mary’s Day celebration, 1964. Image courtesy of the Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles.

This week's arts and culture column is on renowned Catholic artist, Corita (formerly Sister Corita) Kent.

The piece begins like this:

The Center for Spiritual Renewal in Montecito was founded by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a community with an interesting history. Visiting there recently, I spotted a coffee-table book entitled “Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent.”

Anyone who grew up in the New Hampshire Seacoast-Boston area, as I did, knew Sister Corita from the huge Rainbow Swash design on the gas storage tank that was visible as you whizzed by on the Southeast Expressway.

I remembered her from my youth as a zany nun. She seemed old to me then, a somewhat quaint figure who’d managed to escape what I then viewed as the straitjacket of organized religion.

In fact, the Rainbow Swash was designed on the back end of a decades-long career that included innovative teaching and social activism, as well as art.

As independent curator Michael Duncan put it in his “Someday is Now” essay, “A unique contributor to Pop Art and the generator or an effective style of socially engaged art-making, [Corita] has been rediscovered by a new generation bred on Photoshop, grassroots activism, font-tweaking and DIY publishing.”



  1. Heather, I was so happy to see your article about Corita Kent. I saw her exhibit in Cleveland in 2014 and it brought back so many memories from my Catholic education, time making art, and lots of reflection over the years on all the changes in the Church and in the world since the 1960's. Corita's passion to create and what *must* have been her sheer joy to be able to do so is what set her apart and still inspires today.
    A few years ago I found an online site for ordering lamps called "Lamp in a Box". I had been looking for a small lamp and was struck by a brightly lettered lampshade that looked rather familiar.... It had "HAPPY" boldly around part of it and lots of other quotes... Yes, I bought it, and then realized it was Corita's work. It was never attributed to her because this company had bought rights from The Saturday Evening Post for use of photos and graphics that had appeared in the Post over the years. Still, I love having it in my home and the scriptures on it are wonderful. I also ended up buying the Saturday Evening Post magazine that featured Corita's art on the cover but the article inside is brief.

    I am glad that a new generation is discovering Carita's work and studying the times that she lived in. Keeping a center that can safeguard her legacy and her works also retains historical records of the cultural currents that deeply affected her community and her relationships.
    Since rediscovering her a few years ago myself, I had another way to frame my Catholic education and my own relationship with art and Catholic culture.
    Once again, I opened up your blog to see "what's new with Heather" and was SO happy that you had the opportunity to write about her this week.
    Keep up the good work! God bless you, as always.

    1. Mary Beth, thank you and wonderful to have a word from you! A lovely couple in North Hollywood sent a packet after the piece appeared with color copies of photos of 5126 Vineland Ave where Corita apparently had her store for a time. Anyway, she has many fans and one of the staff at the Immaculate Heart Center that safeguards her work, a young man, came close to tears as he spoke of her life, work and legacy. So her spirit lives, and I'm not a bit surprised to find that you are a fan--that's grand you have a lampshade to remind you of her. As always, thank you for the support--hoping you and your family are well, sending love, and...Pentecost!


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