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Sister Corita Kent (1918- 1986)

 

A second version of Corita's art can still be seen in Boston from I-93 on the natural gas tank.

 

Biographical information about  Sister Corita Kent

Corita Kent became one of America's most popular graphic artists in the 1960s and '70s. Her career as a printmaker began in the 1950s while she was a teaching nun in Los Angeles. Her work was "pop" in style, and espoused universal themes of love, hope, and peace. In the early '60s, Corita's work took on a more decidedly more political tenor, reflecting her interest in and support for humanist causes including civil rights, feminism, and anti-war activism.

  • Corita's art became an integral part of the peace movement of the late 1960s/early 1970s.Sister Mary Corita Kent IHM (1918 - 1986), who became known simply as Corita, was this country's most popular artist for a period of time in the 1960s.
  • Most New Englanders know Corita for her rainbow-like design on the National Grid liquefied natural gas tank on Commercial Point in Dorchester, adjacent to the expressway leading into Boston. The tank, unveiled in September 1972, caused a stir when some observers claim the design incorporated the profile of Ho Chi Minh. The tank was later repainted to "soften" the alleged profile.
  • Hearts, rainbows, flowers, and doves - these were the subjects that became synonymous with Corita, along with upbeat sentiments about hope, peace, love, and faith. But the prints that propelled her to international fame in the 1960s and early 1970s made powerful statements about the Kennedy and King assassinations, the Vietnam War, and the Watts riots. 
  • She had a large exhibit of her prints at the 1964 New York World's fair and created the Beatitude Wall for the Vatican Pavilion. Her work starting around this period of immense fame does not confront contemporary culture with the refined religious imagery of her early work.
  • Critics and Corita herself called her art Contemporary Gothic for its direct accessibility to the common man without needing expert interpretation.
  • Partly due to the growing demands of her art career (she had only two weeks a year to devote to her art) and partly due to her dissatisfaction with the church - and vice versa - Sister Corita left the order and teaching and moved to Boston in 1968. She said, "You sometimes must stop, take stock, and start off in a new direction. It is like pruning a tree - then a burst of new life."
  • Corita hand-printed her serigraphs in edition sizes of 200 (on the average). The prints originally sold from between $40. and $150. Current market value is as high as $5000 for especially rare prints.


In 1985, a year before she died from cancer at age 67, the US Postmaster General asked Corita to design one of the four "LOVE" stamps issued since 1973. "It was a high point in my career," she said, "because the stamp will be seen all over the world."


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Last updated March.1,  2009