The Extraordinary Story of Corita Kent, the “Pop Art Nun”

“Corita Kent: The Pop Art Nun” (still) (image courtesy KCET Artbound)

“A work of art makes you alert to what you hadn’t noticed in the ordinary things, so that the distinction narrows between what is ordinary and what is extraordinary,” we hear Corita Kent say in the new video produced by KCET Artbound, “Corita Kent: The Pop Art Nun.” The video, which is being exclusively premiered on Hyperallergic, is filled with gems of archival recordings from an artist who saw graphic design as a spiritual and political force.

Also known as Sister Mary Corita (which means “little heart”), she joined the religious order at the age of 18 but quickly went on to develop her identity as an artist. She got her master’s from the University of Southern California and was the head of the art department at Immaculate Heart College. Some of the most captivating segments in the video focus on Kent’s work as a teacher: one of her favorite activities was giving students viewfinders as tools for cropping. They’d go out into the Los Angeles streets and look closely at public signs and the façades of grocery stores.

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@peepso_user_75(Kate Hendrickson)
I grew up with Sister Corita Kent’s signed works on the family room wall. At the time, they were affordable artwork that my parents purchased. Unfortunately, they were given to my siblings who moved around and didn’t know the value of having them. And, I am not speaking about the monetary value. So, they disappeared along the way. We just didn’t realize at the time how really special her artwork was. Hindsight is 20/20.