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We Care: Works by Corita Kent is a force of positivity on Goucher’s campus

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This semester, Goucher’s Silber Art Gallery presents We Care: Works by Corita Kent, a vibrant collection of serigraphs from nun, teacher, political activist, and unsung hero of the 1960s pop art movement, Corita Kent. 

Frances Elizabeth Kent was born on November 20, 1918, in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Her family moved to Los Angeles in 1923, where Kent would attend and graduate from the Los Angeles Catholic Girls’ High School. She then entered the Order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, taking Sister Mary Corita as her religious name. Corita went on to head the art department at the Immaculate Heart College, where she gained a high reputation as both an artist and an educator. 

Inspired by Andy Warhol and his famous Campbell’s Soup Cans, Corita began making Pop Art prints in 1962. Her work became increasingly influenced by her political views throughout the decade; anti-war messages and comments on class inequality permeate many of her pieces, such as that they may live (1964) or stop the bombing (1967).

While much of Kent’s art took up specific issues, such as the Vietnam War, a lot of it also focused on her general worldview. Take “life is a complicated business,” for example– the bolded word “LIFE” strikes the viewer with its blue letters set against a bright red backdrop. Intertwined in the blue letters are two quotes: from Phillip Roth, “Life is a complicated business fraught with mystery and some sunshine”; and from Simon and Garfunkel, “Let the morning time drop all its petals on me Life, I love you All is groovy.” 

Here, we see how Corita simply appreciated the beauty in existence, finding art all around her. She was known to apply this worldview to her pedagogical practice, often making her students look through a piece of paper with a small square cut out, tasking them to find beauty in the small details of their everyday surroundings. 

Corita was able to let this positive outlook shine through her work, despite often dealing with difficult subjects and injustices in the world. This positivity was deeply connected to her faith, too, as is evident in her 1967 work come alive, which tells the viewer in warped, colorful text “you can make it,” while also proclaiming that a human’s life is the glory of God and Christ. 

Feature image: “come alive” by Corita King, Above: “life is a complicated business” by Corita King, images courtesy of corita.org

This connection of love, life, and God is further exhibited in harness the sun (1967), where Corita expresses her love for all. The piece reads: “So: I see you – a very fresh, unique, wonderful individual… I believe in me through you – I believe in God through you.” Corita was devoted not just to God, but also to a passionate appreciation of the life that God gave her and all those around her.

Like many artists of the Pop Art movement, Corita was motivated to perceive art in anything and everything. She saw beauty in billboards and advertisements, ordinary tenants of modern American life which we often disregard. She especially found artistic value in text. She used text to present a message to viewers, but in doing so, the text became imagery in itself. The texts in her pieces do not simply add symbolic depth, but they also add visual depth, giving a unique texture to each print that further livens the spirit of her art. 

Even as a non-faithful person, it is hard to not get caught up in the abundant positivity of Corita’s work. Simply put, Corita Kent’s art just makes you feel good. The vibrancy and messages are hard, almost impossible, to resist. I implore Goucher students and staff to take a few minutes of their day to check out Corita Kent’s works in Silber; you may emerge a little more appreciative of the beauty which surrounds you.


We Care: Works by Corina Kent is showing in the Silber Art Gallery in the Athenaeum from September 10 – December 16, 2022. The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 11am to 4pm.

By Luke Macannuco ’26

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