“Joyous Revolutionary" comes to City Gallery Wellington


Immaculate Heart College Art Department, Los Angeles,1955, courtesy of Corita Art Center, Los Angeles.

Sister Corita's Summer of Love
23 July – 16 October | Free Entry 

On 23 July, City Gallery Wellington unveils an exhibition by an unsung hero of pop art, Roman Catholic nun Sister Corita Kent (1918–86). In the 1960s, Corita captured the pop/hippie/protest-movement zeitgeist with her technicolour graphics. Inspired by Andy Warhol, the Los Angeles–based screenprinter repurposed text from advertising and product packaging, road signs and pop songs to spread messages of joy, love and peace, protest and faith.

Corita’s works supported the civil-rights movement, protested the wars in Southeast Asia, and lamented the assassinations of American political leaders. They can now be found in the collections of the Whitney and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. A Sister of Los Angeles’s order Immaculate Heart of Mary, Corita taught at the art department, which soon became legendary with big-name speakers like John Cage, Charles and Ray Eames, and Alfred Hitchcock. Dubbed the “joyous revolutionary” by artist Ben Shahn, Corita lectured extensively. She appeared on television and radio talk shows and, in 1967, on the cover of Newsweek and in Harper’s Bazaar’s ‘100 American Women of Accomplishment’.

As a teacher, Corita encouraged her students to discover new ways of viewing the world, seeking revelation in the everyday. Corita’s friend, theologian Harvey Cox noted, “Like a priest, a shaman, a magician, she could pass her hands over the commonest of the everyday, the superficial, the oh-so-ordinary, and make it a vehicle of the luminous, the only, and the hope filled.”

Sister Corita’s Summer of Love includes more than 70 prints made between 1962 and 1979. Exhibition curator, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Director Simon Rees, says, “Like the best political orators and preachers, Corita’s works deliver messages that touch everybody. Her works may remind New Zealand audiences of a collectivism missing from political expression today.”

At City Gallery, the exhibition will be supplemented with works by Colin McCahon, Ed Ruscha, Michael Parekowhai, Jim Speers, Scott Redford and Michael Stevenson, plus a presentation of recent Christian videos featuring kinetic typography.

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.

For media enquiries, please contact: Publicist, Olivia Lacey | Olivial@experiencewellington.org.nz | 021 022 40312

Sister Corita’s Summer of Love Saturday 23 July – Sunday 16 October | Free entry

Exhibition Opening Day Talk: Saturday 23 July, 2pm 

Sister Corita Kent Power Up 1965. Courtesy Corita Art Center.