Comeau, founder of the Inspired Images Foundation, knew Corita well. Their association and
friendship began in 1969, when they produced a packet of materials for the United Church of
Christ. Rev. Comeau contributed two albums, a book of poetry, and other written materials to
the project; Corita produced two serigraphs of his poetry, which were used as posters. The
materials were published in 1970. The two remained life-long friends.
are some of Rev. Comeau's reminisces and reflections on Corita:
an era when it was not acceptable for women to voice opinions, Sister Mary Corita was working
away at her non-violent ministry: art! She had always admired activists who protested loudly,
marched, and were willing to be incarcerated for standing up for their beliefs. This sort of
activism was not in her nature; however, what she was able to accomplish with her art was,
in ways, more momentous than what the protesters achieved. Corita's 'protests' are still being
enunciated each time someone views her artwork. Her gift to the world is priceless, because
her theme of 'learning to love one another' will always be in vogue.
a teacher, she was known as a challenger, a free thinker, a celebrator, an encourager. She
taught her students that one of the most important rules when looking at art of watching films
was 'don't blink - you might miss something extremely valuable.' She gave herself to each student
entirely, always maintaining eye contact, a gift her students cherished.
was a multifaceted artist, but her real love was serigraphy, the art of silk-screen printmaking.
She was a master! She enjoyed the astonishing effects of combining words with colorful images:
they never ceased to amaze her. As she - and the times - changed, so did her art, reflecting
the direction in which the world was moving.
being a celebrity came too soon for the nun. It was something she never asked to be, but she
carried the burdens of stardom with grace, kindness, and loving warmth. She was never arrogant,
and accepted celebrity status because she believed it would help the College of the Immaculate
Heart of Mary, where she was teaching, and because she felt it would be good for her community
of Sisters of the IHM.
the late '60s, the Church, like the rest of the country, was going through changes that angered,
threatened, and tormented many of the faithful. Sister Mary Corita's art began to infuriate
certain conservative Church leaders. They considered her dangerous. Once, she was accused of
being a 'guerilla with a paintbrush,' guerilla meaning an enemy who uses familiar images to
make blatant statements.
doubt this attack offended Corita; she was a resistor, a quiet activist who knew her soul and
did what she could to make the world a better place in which to live.
shameful disrespect and insecurities of one Church leader, James Francis Cardinal McIntyre,
were demonstrated through actions taken against the IHM community. All of this took a toll
on Corita and the entire IHM community, who had chosen to experiment and make what was considered
'drastic' changes in those days.
before the Cardinal's wrath was unleashed, Corita was plagued by an acute case of insomnia.
Witnesses who knew her well testified that she would not sleep for three or four nights on
end, and that the results were evident with every step she took. She was exhausted by all she
had agreed to take upon herself and was unable to let go of her duties 'after hours.' Fr. Daniel
Berrigan said of her, '"Corita was the guardian angel of the world. Therefore she was
called to be sleepless."'
32 years as an immaculate Heart of Mary nun, Corita began to ponder a leave of absence, perhaps
hoping to resurrect her drooping spirit. After her sabbatical, she informed the IHM community
that she would not return. This broke the hearts of her Sisters, who loved her dearly. More
than that, they needed her vitality. But Corita felt that she was unable to radiate, give,
share, and needed time to heal.
and fans of Corita's work - those eye-pleasing, colorful, blatantly inspirational messages
- would certainly think the artist must have been a very happy person. This simply was never
true. She herself often admitted that she was more down than up. Around 1977, the artist developed
cancer. Her doctor gave her only six months to live, but Corita knew that she had major art
pieces to complete before she died - nine years later."
Back to Corita Show
-- Rev. Bill Comeau