23 July - 16 October 2016

Sister Corita's Summer of Love

Sister Corita’s Summer of Love surveys the graphic art of Sister Corita Kent (1918 – 1986), an unsung figure in pop art.

Sister Corita was a Roman Catholic nun. From 1936 to 1968, she lived, worked and taught at the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in Los Angeles, heading their art department from 1964 to 1968. In the 1960s, she became famous for her distinctive screenprints, with their graphic treatments of words, in bold, often fluoro, colours. A magpie, Corita drew on the language of advertising and packaging, signs and slogans, poetry and lyrics, to develop her own messages of joy, faith, love and protest. Her works supported the civil-rights movement, protested the wars in Indo-China and Southeast Asia, and lamented the assassinations of American political leaders.

Corita’s approach was informed by Vatican II, a movement to make the Catholic Church relevant to contemporary society. Through it, the Church advocated changes to traditional liturgy, including conducting Mass in vernacular languages, instead of Latin. The American Catholic Church’s adoption of common English underpinned Corita’s playful use of colloquial language.

In 1968, she left Immaculate Heart and relocated to Boston, where she remained for the rest of her life. There, she is remembered for her 1971 Rainbow Swash gas-tank mural, one of the city’s most beloved landmarks.

In addition to her screenprints, the show includes documentary films that offer a rich context for Corita’s work.

Sister Corita’s Summer of Love is a joint project with New Plymouth’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, and has been curated by its Director, Simon Rees. At the Govett-Brewster, Corita’s work was supported with works by Colin McCahon, Ed Ruscha, Marco Fusinato, and Wellington Media Collective. In Wellington, it will be supplemented with works by McCahon, Ruscha, Michael Parekowhai, Jim Speers, Scott Redford, and Michael Stevenson, plus a presentation of recent Christian videos featuring kinetic typography.

Thank you to Sister Corita Art Center and Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles.