Back in December 2019 (which feels like ages ago!), I was accepted to be a part of the Guitar Art project for the ArtReach San Diego. Originally, I was planning a different design, but they liked my series of influential women’s portraits, so we decided to go with it. After a short discussion, the choice fell on Corita Kent, the American Catholic nun, a pop-art icon and art educator. She was a huge human rights and equality advocate and an inspiration for hundreds of students and artists in the US in the 1960s and 70s. Being an art teacher, her persona is a perfect representation of ArtReach’s mission.
About the Influential Women series
This series explores the depth of the inner world of women who left a significant footprint in history beyond their official biographies. My goal is to evoke a sense of connection to and empathy with the human being behind the public persona. In the modern world, where influential women are perceived almost as exotic creatures, we tend to diminish the idea that they had feelings, desires, and tragedies that formed them. Just like all of us, regardless of gender.
In short about Corita Kent
Corita Kent (November 20, 1918 – September 18, 1986), born Frances Elizabeth Kent and also known as Sister Mary Corita Kent, was an American Roman Catholic religious sister, pop-up artist, designer, and educator. Key themes in her work included Christianity and social justice. After graduating from high school at the age of 18, Frances made a surprise decision to continue her life and education at a religious order — Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Angeles, CA — where she took the name of Sister Mary Corita. There, with the support and encouragement of her mentors, she completed her art education and began screen-printing and teaching art, first at primary school and then at Immaculate Heart College.
For more of Corita’s biography, please visit Corita.org
Despite being a Catholic nun, Corita was free-spirited, rebellious, forward-thinking, and an inspiring teacher. Her art was provocative, loud, and often related to the current political and social environment. She carried a message of “good heart” through her work — not as a nun — but as a caring and empathetic human being. She encouraged her students to see beauty by dissecting the big, messy world into colorful bits and pieces. She taught her students to use what she called “finders” to learn how to see with fresh eyes. “You have to look at the world [in] small pieces at a time,” she said. “Look at it. Just a small part of the world.”
The only God-Love we know is Human Love
When I’m researching the life of my next Influential Woman, I can usually identify a childhood trauma or otherwise significant “tipping point” event that forms the character traits of their adult persona. That wasn’t the case for Corita, though. Coming from a difficult childhood and then trading the world for life in a Convent, one might think that she was running away. But Corita never showed a single sign of bitterness or disconnection. She was vividly present and active in the community, advocating for social justice and spreading a message of love. It seems like everything she did came from one dominant feeling of empathy and compassion.
It was was hard to get used to this idea at first. Does anyone at this young age really know anything about compassion, forgiveness, and a greater good? Is it really possible to be so selfless and know their true calling? I spent many hours digging into Corita’s biography, interview recordings, and videos. I contacted the team from Corita Center in LA asking for assistance in my research. I finally gave up after one interview where she said about her alcoholic father that “he was an artistic soul but terribly burdened by having to take care of six children” [not an exact quote].
About the Guitar Art auction
- Online auction bidding will be open October 1st – November 8th.
- Bidder registration is currently live, so go ahead and register and let your friends and family know!
- The online auction will close at 9 PM PST on Sunday, November 8th.
- Auction website: http://charityauction.bid/artreachguitarartauction
- Here’s the page for The Legacy Of Corita Kent guitar
- All 31 artist designed guitars can be found in the Catalog
- The starting bid for all of the guitars is $600, with incremental bid increases of $50 per bid.