Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Me? Like a Screen-Printing Nun who Transformed Modern Art and Changed the World? Are you sure you have the right girl?

"There will be new rules next week." Corita Kent


Have you ever received a compliment that was so big you didn't know how to take it in? Here's mine. It came in a text message  from my wonderful friend the Honorable Judge Mary Elizabeth Bullock after she received my painting "Hope":
“Michal, you are the sweetest, most talented and gifted person I have met since the loss of a very dear artist friend of mine, Corita Kent. Corita was in a convent for many years where she began her amazing art. Like you, she had the soul of an angel. Your kindness gave me hope, hope in today, hope for tomorrow and importantly – hope in human kind….”
To fully grasp the depth of this compliment I’d like to share with you Corita Kent (1918-1986), the screen-printing nun who transformed the path of modern art. (Wouldn’t you like to be known for transforming something? Me too.)
Corita lived with passion. She took what she was given, a tiny art department and some students, and turned it into a global center for design and printmaking. She became pals with Buckminster Fuller. IBM was a client. Activist. Artist. Positive (She was unapologetically positive). Life inspired her. She gathered ideas everywhere she turned: from the Bible to the streets of L.A. She shamelessly copied her artistic contemporaries’ style (Andy Warhol, Shephard Fairey). And under her fearless artistic direction as an art teacher, the Los Angeles Immaculate Heart School became legendary (1947 to 1968). Buckminster Fuller said her art studio was “among the most fundamentally inspiring experiences of my life.”

In the late 1960s, Corita became even more of a social activist, focusing her art on civil rights and the Vietnam War. That rocked the boat for the religious leaders at the school. They didn’t like it just as much as they disapproved of the rock music she played during art class. Corita was a mover and a shaker. When the Catholic Church wouldn’t change with the times, allowing women more freedom, she left (1968). I love that she stood strong for what she believed in. I really admire that.

 Kent was a nun who established herself and had a prosperous profession. She even was the cover girl for Newsweek. She illustrated the Love stamp for the U.S. Post Office (1985). She’s painted the famous Rainbow Swash mural on a gas tank which has become a local landmark in Boston. I think it is the largest copyrighted art work in the world. Oh & they appropriately honored her, renaming the art studio at Immaculate Hear College Corita Art Center.

 I think each of us longs to change the world like Corita did. And we can, by doing whatever it is that we do best and giving it our all. If you need some inspiration, I'd love to create something especially for you, or you can choose from my collection at Michal Madison Art. Ten percent of every sale goes to making a difference in the lives of children (Childhelp). I guess that is something I have in common with Corita.

I hope you have a magical day filled with unapologetic positivity,

Mary Elizabeth Bullock, I don’t even know how to accept a compliment of this magnitude, but thank you from the bottom of my heart. Corita Kent inspires me. Thank you for introducing me to her life and her art. I love you. You make me feel like gold.

Thanks to Alisa Walker, Richard Howe, David Blazer and Google (Don't you love Google?) for the great information on Corita Kent.

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