August's artist for Dead Artist Society is Sister Corita Kent. I'm know just a little about Corita Kent from Lisa Congdon and Austin Kleon and I'm excited to learn more about her art and her life this month.
Frances Elizabeth Kent was born to Edith and Bob Kent in Fort Dodge, Iowa on November 20, 1918. She was the fifth of six children. Looking for work, the Kents relocated first to Vancouver, British Columbia, then to Hollywood where Bob found a job in the furnace business. Frances (a preschooler at the time) recalls arriving in Los Angeles on a sailing ship. They moved into her grandfather's apartment building and the kids went to Blessed Sacrament School. Edith took in sewing and laundry jobs and later managed the rental units.
Her parents worked hard to provide for all six children but young Frances developed rickets (a condition associated with malnutrition) and it slowed her growth. She grew to be 5'2".
Corita Kent was a Pop artist and like Marisol Escobar her work had strong social messages. In the screenprint above the cursive says:
It's bad you don't know what to do when you've got five children standing around crying for something to eat and you don't know where to get it, and you don't know which way to start to get it. I just get nervous or something. Kentucky miner's wife
There are so many hungry people that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. -Gandhi
Frances's father Bob was an alcoholic. He disappeared for days at at time. He had trouble keeping jobs. Frances saw that he was a creative soul, burdened by the needs of a large family, and self medicated. She said:
Frances was a creative child who liked to read, draw, make paper dolls, and hand letter posters. Her 6th grade teacher recognized her as a budding artist and tutored her after school using a UCLA art curriculum. Frances graduated from Los Angeles Catholic Girls High School in 1936 and the following summer took classes at Otis Art Institute in LA.