We have no Art – Sister Corita

 

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For emergency use soft shoulder, 1966, screenprint

 

A call to arms, get with the action. I really loved this show, the second time I went I still welled up, and I really couldn’t pin point why I had this reaction. On show is a vast collection of large screen prints, in bold, contrasting colours, all with text and some with image based backgrounds.

Despite the potential to do so, Sister Corita’s work is not preachy, or persuasive. However there is certainly a motive, she speaks clearly with decisive language making short statements about the human disposition.

 

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Left: Apples are Basic, 1966, screenprint Right: Ha, 1966, screenprint

 

Excerpt from ‘We Have No Art’, A 1967 documentary by Baylis Glascock about Sister Corita Kent.

‘The function of a work of art has always been to alert people to things they might have missed….. The happening is this, in a very intense way, yet gives people an experience of being rather totally involved, in sound in colour in movement, in everything that the body is somehow connected with, in a very intense way. Which is really what art is, art is not necessarily life, or directly connected with life, Its an intensified thing.

Short and instructive as a work of art is, I think It was Shaw who said ‘Art is the only thing that can educate painlessly’. A work of art makes you alert to what you hadn’t noticed in the ordinary things so the distinction narrows between what is ordinary and what is extraordinary.

try just for once to be as intense as you can, and also be kind of aware of how people are feeling, … how hard they are taking this, or how relaxed they seem. And this whole thing can kind of be an adventure for your senses.

Art is to give you a very intense experience, so that the other experiences can grow in intensity”.

 

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Life is a Complicated Business, 1967, screenprint

 

‘We have no art, we know everything as well as we can’. Sister Corita quotes a Balinese book.

 

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That Evil is Never the Climax of History, 1963, screenprint

Sister Corita at the Ian Potter Art Gallery.

 

Sister Corita, was a nun who ran an art department in Los Angeles during the 1960’s.

From the moment I entered the room, I felt for some reason emotional. The works were of a good size, around A1 featuring bold shapes, screen-printed and at times the layers of colour overlapping one another. Combing lettering, hand written text than had been screen-printed, and bold shapes printed in bright opaque colours.

I felt a sense of urgency, a need to communicate from these prints. They were enlightening, the text contained was hopeful, and open to interpretation, rather than a religious dialogue.

It made me feel like printing straight away. Like cutting out shapes,  slapping paper down and printing feverishly.

Supported by two films, watch here

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