American artist and educator Corita Kent (1918-1986) used art as a tool for communicating messages of faith, activism, and social responsibility. A Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Corita taught in the Art Department at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles from 1947 through 1968. There, she developed a signature style of printmaking that combined the bold and graphic visual strategies of Pop Art with calls for social justice and understanding. Corita sought "revelation in the everyday," and in her vibrant images sampled text from street signs, poetry, philosophy, advertising slogans, scripture, and song lyrics. This group of provocative prints from the 1960s, a period when Corita's work became increasingly political, poses broad philosophical questions about the most pressing issues of the day—civil rights, racism, poverty, war, and injustice. However, the work is infused with joy and hope for the future.
This exhibition was organized in response to Marquette University's 2016-17 Forum: Freedom Dreams Now, a year-long series of inclusive conversations that look with new eyes at the challenges that inequality presents at the national level and within Milwaukee.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, Come Alive!: The Spirited Art of Sister Corita looks at the 35-years during which Kent made watercolors, posters, books and banners--and most of all, serigraphs--in an accessible and dynamic style that appropriated techniques from advertising, consumerism and graffiti. The earliest, which she began showing in 1951, borrowed phrases and depicted images from the Bible; by the 1960s, she was using song lyrics and publicity slogans as raw material. Eschewing convention, she produced cheap, readily available multiples, including a postage stamp. Her work was popular but largely neglected by the art establishment--though it was always embraced by such design luminaries as Charles and Ray Eames, Buckminster Fuller and Saul Bass. More recently, she has been increasingly recognized as one of the most innovative and unusual Pop artists of the 1960s, battling the political and religious establishments, revolutionizing graphic design and making some of the most striking--and joyful--American art of her era, all while living and practicing as a Catholic nun. The first to examine this important American outsider artist's life and career, the book contains more than 90 illustrations, many of which are reproduced for the first time, in vibrant, and occasionally Day-Glo, color.