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.