Screenprint Sister

At Ditchling this summer here's a rare chance to see the work of Sister Corita Kent – an LA-based screenprinting nun from the 1960s whose inspirational work still resonates as much as ever.

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Emergency use soft shoulder (1966) Photo Josh White, courtesy of the Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles, CA

We're huge fans of Sister Corita Kent at Grafik, hence we're really excited about the exhibition of her vibrant screenprints which will go on show at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft in May. While definitely of its time (most of her work was created in the 60s and 70s), it has a timeless appeal – perhaps because of its handmade quality and the fact that it seems to comes from the heart.

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Mary does laugh (1964) Courtesy of the Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles, CA

Sister Corita was unusual in that as well as being part of the religious order Immaculate Heart of Mary, she was an educator, a successful artist and a strong advocate for social justice. As heading of the art department at Immaculate Heart College, she created work with mass appeal, incorporating everything from images and slogans taken from the world of advertising to song lyrics, biblical verses, and literature.

Corita's work became increasingly political throughout the 1960s and reflected the racism, poverty and injustice which plagued parts of America at the time. While she is known for her religious beliefs, in 1968 she left the order. She carried on working and fighting for social justice until her death in 1986. By then, she had created almost 800 serigraphs, thousands of watercolors, and many public and private commissions.

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D everything coming up daisies (1968) Courtesy of the Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles, CA

A passionate educator, Corita created a set of rules for the art studio which still ring true:

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything – it might come in handy later.

Just in case you need another excuse to visit, as an accompaniment to the Corita Kent: Get with the Action at Ditchling, Queen of Colour Morag Myerscough and partner in crime Luke Morgan will take over the museum’s Wunderkammer (Cabinet of Curiosities), which will sit alongside their interactive kinetic installation Sign Machine (2016).

Corita's work lives on through the Corita Art Center in Los Angeles – see an archive of her work here.

Corita Kent: Get with the Action

5 May to 14 October 2018
Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft
Ditchling, East Sussex, BN6 8SP