The Catholic nun who made joyous, politically charged Pop Art
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At the end of the turbulent 1960s, the United States became enamored with Corita Kent, a nun who made joyous, politically charged and boldly colorful screen prints.
Featured on the cover of Newsweek in 1967 under the headline "The nun: Going modern," she symbolized an evolving and more liberal Catholic Church. When she designed a stamp in 1985, the US Postal Service sold over 700 million of them.
"A lot of her works are about hope, and justice and love," said Nellie Scott, director of LA's Corita Art Center, which was set up after Kent's death to promote and preserve her legacy.
After Kent's death in 1986, her popularity steadily declined. That changed in 2007, when artist and curator Julie Ault reignited scholarly interest in her punchy, text-driven silk screens through the book "Come Alive! The Spirited Art of Sister Corita."
Like many other women artists, Kent's place in art history has been more thoroughly revisited through major exhibitions during the last decade, and her work is held in the collections of institutions including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Last year, city authorities in Los Angeles, where she dedicated much of her life to teaching, named November 20 "Corita Kent Day" to mark what would have been her 101st birthday.
Most importantly, Kent has finally been credited for her contributions to Pop Art, a movement that male artists have long had a stronghold on.
"Not only were women discounted as producers of Pop, they were often hypersexualized as the represented objects of Pop Art," wrote curator Susan Dackerman in "Corita Kent and the Language of Pop," a 2015 book accompanying an exhibition of the same name. Andy Warhol, for instance, was known for using stars like Marilyn Monroe and Edie Sedgwick as his muses and objects of desire.
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