Radical nuns making religious pop art? The grocery store across the street both inspiration and source material? No need to tell us twice: the Orbit is there! We may not have known it, but this was the show we’ve been waiting for this our entire lives and we got a first look on opening night.
Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent is up at The Andy Warhol Museum through April 19, and I cannot recommend it more. It is the best Warhol Museum show this blogger has ever seen. (Yes: that includes Diane Keaton’s clown painting collection.)
Sister Corita Kent lived, taught, and created art at the Immaculate Heart Community in Los Angeles in the 1950s and ’60s. The lecture we attended mentioned that Sister Corita was fully booked with teaching and nun duties for much of the year and managed to do nearly all of her voluminous silk screen work in a very brief window between the end of classes in the late Spring and the start of Summer.
These periods of high production were often followed by cross-country summer road trips wherein the sisters would literally take their art to the people, traveling all the way to the East Coast, setting up roadside cheap art fairs at all points in between, wherever their station wagon landed. Many of the surviving prints still have the tack marks to prove it.
The backstory is intriguing, but the art is fantastic. It’s beautiful and clever, sacred and psychedelic, deeply meaningful and goofy. My favorites are the silk screen pieces from the mid-60s where Sister Corita took familiar magazine advertising and product packaging, distorted, rearranged, and otherwise mutated it, and then usually combined it with Bible verses (you’ve got to get in close to read these) to turn the original message (often literally) on its head.
The color combinations are wild: often radically garish choices of fluorescent pinks and greens that seem like they shouldn’t work, but do. The printing technique is really fascinating as well: words broken into multiple colors and bending text. All this achieved in a low-tech, pre-Photoshop era by cutting, bending, and folding paper and then re-photographing to generate the required two-tone originals.
(My) photos don’t do justice to these fantastic pieces. You need to get in close and read the fine print. The show left me feeling incredibly awake and alive and inspired and envious. Trips to Shur-Save haven’t been the same since. Get yourself down to The Warhol while you still can.