Mass Appeal: The Art of Corita Kent

January 27, 2017 - April 3, 2017

This exhibition is generously sponsored by Miriam Chase Wille & The Lake Avenue Group at Morgan Stanley and is a special collaboration with California State University Channel Islands, Art Department

One of California’s greatest political artists is having a resurgence. Corita Kent, best known for her iconic Love stamp was able to combine a passion for social justice with a Pop art aesthetic to great effect.

Corita Kent, formerly known as Sister Mary Corita, taught and chaired the Art Department at Immaculate Heart of Mary College for 32 years until 1968. There, she welcomed the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, John Cage, Ray and Charles Eames into her classroom. Former students speak to Corita’s ability to transform the way they saw the world. One simple device she employed was a cardboard “finder”. Students were tasked to search their everyday with the finder “to see for the sake of seeing”.

Kent saw Andy Warhol’s first exhibition at Ferus Gallery in L.A. in 1962. She later remarked that it changed the way she saw her own work. Kent’s prints often combined advertising imagery with quotes that inspired and provoked the viewer to be better. Social and racial justice were central to Kent’s art 50 years ago, they remain central to our experience today.

The artist’s pop approach to social activism—rallying cries for peace, tributes to civil rights activists, and overwhelming belief in hope and love—makes her works as relevant today as they were fifty years ago.

CMATO Executive Director and Curator for the exhibition, Tish Greenwood, points out, “In Corita’s serigraphs, you see an adventurous and non-conformist spirit that twists, flips, and stretches our presuppositions about the world around us. Her imagination and her belief in the power of text and images to transmute the everyday into something special is remarkable.”

Work by Corita Kent is held in many major museum collections including The Whitney, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Several pieces in this exhibition are on loan from local collectors as well as the Corita Art Center, Los Angeles.


One of America’s icons, Sister Mary Corita became known as the rebel nun in the tumultuous 1960s. Like Pop giant Andy Warhol, she borrowed from advertising, bill posters and pop culture to make her works, and quoted everything from the Bible to Thoreau, Jefferson Airplane, Philip Roth and Gertrude Stein.

Kent was recognized for her rebellious spirit as an artist and educator, and for her inventive use of graphic type and vibrant color in communicating messages.

Pop art is an art movement that began as a revolt against the dominant approaches to art and culture and traditional views on what art should be.


Kent lived and worked in the Immaculate Heart Community from 1938 until she left the order in 1968. During that time, she taught and eventually became Chair of the Art Department art Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles.



Photos Courtesy of Karla Chouhan


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