Love is Here to Stay (and That’s Enough): Sister Corita’s art exhibit displayed in Founders Hall
MADDISON HAWORTH | THE USD VISTA | CONTRIBUTOR
Possessing courage and passion, Sister Corita Kent uses her artistic talent and experience to ignite social change. Sister Corita is one of the many leaders from the early-to-mid 1900s that tackled controversial issues especially through her unique communication style. As the early-to-mid 1900s were filled with many controversial issues, the need for these brave and courageous leaders was quite apparent.
Derrick Cartwright, PhD., USD’s Director of University Galleries, recently spoke to a Michael Canepa’s Media Writing class about the Love is Here to Stay (and That’s Enough) exhibit, the latest art collection in the Robert and Karen Hoehn Family Galleries located in Founders Hall. The collection consists of 50 of Sister Corita’s screen prints, which incorporate religious, political, and social values. The exhibit opened on Feb. 18 and will remain open until May 13.
“Sister Corita was really engaged in Civil Rights movements and anti-Vietnam efforts,”Cartwright said. “What was going on in the 1960s in Los Angeles and throughout the country was not nearly as progressive as her art.”
Sister Corita studied art at the University of Southern California before she became an art teacher and joined the Immaculate Heart of Mary convent of Hollywood as a nun. Cartwright shares his fascination for the talented artists’ meaningful work.
“Corita herself was known to be soft-spoken, but the prints that she produced were outspoken and powerful,” Cartwright said. “While priests were burning draft cards for the Vietnam War, Corita was making art to protest instead.”
Sister Corita’s involvement with the Catholic Church impacted her career and played a huge influence on her artwork during the first half of her career.
Riley Jaye comments on Corita’s artwork inside the Founder’s Hall exhibit.
“The pieces were really revolutionary for the time, but simple for today’s standards,” Jaye said.
Cartwright also wanted to arrange the gallery in a way that told her story.
“At the beginning of her career Corita made many religious and spiritual art pieces,” Cartwright said. “Towards the end of her career she made more political and social protest art pieces. We set up this gallery to tell the story of her life and arc of her career.”
Sister Corita created several of her pieces from pictures of protests on newspaper covers. She also sent out messages through popular brands of the time such as Wonder Bread and Sunkist, and designed her art around them.
Sophomore, Lennox Mandel visited the exhibit to thoroughly examine the meanings behind the artwork.
“The pieces had a happy tone to them,” Mandel said. “They had a lot of really vibrant colors and were relatable with the simple language Corita used.”
Combining her passion for her Catholic faith and social change, she created pieces that honored leaders of the Civil Rights movement and political change. One such piece she produced was in honor of Senator Robert F. Kennedy after he was assassinated in 1968. The print features RFK along with Jesus wearing a crown of thorns in the background.
Despite much fame, popularity, and publicity, there was a time when people such as college students were purchasing three of her prints for around $10. Cartwright shared that they are now worth thousands of dollars.
“Some of Corita’s pieces have holes in the corners from being hung up in college dorms,” Cartwright said.
USD students now have the opportunity to view Sister Corita’s prints, although not on the walls of their dorms. Jeffrey Mark Burns, USD’s Director of the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture, first brought Sister Corita’s work to Cartwright’s attention.
Cartwright expressed that he chooses art exhibits that he believes students will benefit from and enjoy. He believes that spending time in these galleries, specifically the Love is Here to Stay (and That’s Enough) exhibit, will contribute to students’ overall understanding of important moments in history.
Cartwright hopes that he can inspire students and help them learn history through the exhibits that he brings to the USD campus galleries.
“Art is an important history lesson,” Cartwright said. “I chose this exhibit so that students could learn what was urgent to people in the 1960s. Art could be a path to social change that can really resonate with some students. Art has the potential to make a difference for all time.”
Cartwright believes that the image world can teach students many new things. Through the selection of Sister Corita’s art, he hopes to inspire learning, passion, and a desire for social progress in students at USD.