In 1936 at the age of 18, Frances Kent decided to become to a nun. Her eldest siblings Ruth and Mark were also called by God but Frances' decision still came as a surprise to her family and friends.
At the Los Angeles Immaculate Heart of Mary, Frances wass allowed to choose her new name. In honor of their sacred saint, most nuns choose Mary and add another name from an approved list. Her older sister kept her given name becoming Sister Mary Ruth. Frances chose Mary Corita. The name in Ancient Greek meaning maiden or virgin and the more modern romance language translation meaning little heart. Sister Corita was attracted to the name's humility.
In 1941, Corita Kent finished her BA at Immaculate Heart College and in 1944 she was assigned to teach primary school in British Columbia. When she left, her brother Mark had recently been released from a Japanese internment camp in Korea where he had been held prisoner. He returned home to California very sick. While teaching in Victoria she was exposed to Native American cultures––textiles, ceremonial attire, baskets, pottery, jewelry, tribal artifacts––and these made an impression on Sister Corita.
In 1946, an accreditation team determined that the art department at Immaculate Heart College needed at least two permanent teachers so Sister Corita was called back to IHC to join Sister Magdalen Mary who had run the department on her own for the past 10 years.
When Corita was called back to IHC to join the faculty of the Art Department, she began graduate school at University of Southern California. In 1951 she took a screen printing course as one of her last classes to complete her degree. One of her first prints, the lord is with thee, won first prize in both the Los Angeles County print competition and the California State Fair.
Corita transformed Immaculate Heart College’s annual Mary’s Day procession into a community celebration which was part of the sister’s campaign to bring secular people together. Photos below are from Mary's Day. In the top right photo Corita is in the Hunt's Catsup costume and in the bottom right photo she is wearing a Campbell's tomato soup costume while eating an ice cream cone.
Corita and Sister Magdalen Mary, her mentor and head of the art department at IHC, traveled the US and abroad in the 1950's and early 60's. They acquired pieces for the Gloria Collection of folk art and gave lectures at universities and other institutions.
This week my neighbor and new best friend ;) Doug loaned me this amazing Sister Corita book and prints.
There are SO many prints in the box! These are just a few of my early favorites, that Day Glow neon is amazing!