LET THE SUN SHINE IN - A RETORSPECTIVE
February 22 until May 24, 2014
Sister Corita Kent (1918-1986) was an artist, teacher, philosopher, political activist and possibly one of the most innovative and unusual pop artists of the 1960s. She was a nun in the Catholic Church until 1968 when Sister Corita sought dispensation from her vows. For over 30 years, in the heart of Los Angeles, Corita produced a variety of serigraph or screen-printed images. This extraordinary retrospective exhibition documents Corita’s practice during that time. The exhibition begins with a selection of abstract expressionist prints from the early 1960s and then continues with her famous Pop Art works from the mid-1960s. As a pop artist, Corita primarily focused on text and vibrant color, manipulated type and images appropriated from the newly burgeoning consumer culture of her era. Rather than using the trappings of materialism to point out its flaws, however, she would radically reframe the elements she extracted from advertising logos and signage by spatially manipulating the text. She would then add quotations from sources as diverse as the Bible, author and philosopher Albert Camus, poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and contemporary pop songs by the Beatles.
After leaving the church in the late 1960s, Corita’s works took a grand stylistic turn. She all but abandoned the neon-soaked Psychedelia of her previous works, and opted instead for a more subtle, nuanced approach to art making. A selection of these works from the 1970s and 1980s will be included here as well. Corita first taught, and subsequently became chair of the art department at Los Angeles’s Immaculate Heart College, where she became famous for her novel pedagogical methods. Her students helped produce her serigraphs, and her inventive teaching practices encouraged them to look hard and work harder, leaving a lasting impact on the way they encountered the world. With fame also came the opportunity to invite her contemporaries to speak at her lectures. Illustrious speakers including luminaries such as designers Charles and Ray Eames, composer John Cage, graphic designer Saul Bass and film director Alfred Hitchcock.
For "Let The Sun Shine In", the curators will broaden the sphere of Corita’s inclusive spirit of collaboration to involve yet another generation of art students and viewers. A section of the gallery will be transformed into a workshop, where the public can engage in activities based on Corita’s pedagogical principles. In addition to serigraphs, Let The Sun Shine In will feature a collection of photographic images from the Immaculate Heart archive, documenting not just Corita and her practice, but the wild and wonderful community that surrounded her during that time. Additionally, a film program of rarely seen cinematic works from the era will accompany the exhibition.
Aaron Rose was co-curator of the museum exhibition Beautiful Losers, which toured the world through 2009. In 2011, he was associate curator of Art In The Streets, an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in Los Angeles.
Sasha Carrera is the director of the Corita Art Center and –as a specialist– has been managing the artistic heritage of Sister Corita Kent for ten years.
Wonderbread, 1962, serigraph on paper, courtesy of Circle Culture Gallery and Corita Art Center, photo: Joshua White
Don't Back Up, 1967, silkscreen on pellon, courtesy of Circle Culture Gallery and Corita Art Center
installation views, 2014, photos: Uwe Walter