Graphic Design and Social Justice
Raised in Los Angeles and spent most of her life in Southern California
Corita Kent was an artist, educator, and advocate for social justice who worked primarily in serigraphy. Born Frances Elizabeth Kent, she entered the religious order Immaculate Heart of Mary at age 18. After briefly teaching in the Pacific Northwest, she was called back to teach art at Immaculate Heart College. Under the direction of Corita and her mentor Sister Magdalen Mary, the art department became a well-known center of creativity and liberal thinking with a recognizable style. In the early ‘50s, Corita began printmaking, her work influenced by the medieval art she was studying for her master’s degree at the University of Southern California.
In the early 1960s, her work began incorporating advertising images and slogans, popular song lyrics, biblical verses, and literature. Her vibrant and socially conscious artwork became enormously popular. By 1968, she had shown in over 230 exhibitions and her work was in public and private collections worldwide. Throughout the 1960s, her work became increasingly political, urging viewers to consider poverty, racism, and injustice. Always resistant to the line between fine and commercial work, Corita took commissions large and small, everything from greeting cards to book jackets and illustrations, posters, billboards, and even a US stamp.
In 1968, Corita sought dispensation from her vows and moved to Boston, where she continued to work and remained active in social causes. At the time of her death, she had created almost 800 serigraph editions, thousands of watercolors, and innumerable public and private commissions.
She bequeathed her copyrights and unsold art to the Immaculate Heart Community. Recognizing the continuing relevance and importance of Corita’s art and teaching, the Community created the Corita Art Center to keep her legacy alive for generations to come.