Tag Archives: FIU

Corita Kent: In the Beginning was the Word

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While my mom was in town last week, we stopped by The Frost Art Museum at FIU. One exhibit up for display was the work of Corita Kent. She was an iconic pop artist, prolific activist for peace, and, at one time, a nun. Her pieces were so inspiring and I’d love to plaster them all over my walls. I thought her life story and work was fascinating, and wanted to share a little bit with you guys…

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Her Background: Born Frances Elizabeth Kent in Fort Dodge, Iowa in 1918, Kent joined the Roman Catholic order of Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Angeles in 1936. She took the name Sister Mary Corita. After receiving an education in art and art history, she became an teacher and later the chair of the art department at Immaculate Heart College which housed the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Charles & Ray Eames. Her own art was almost exclusively serigraphy, developing innovative methods of screen printing. Over the course of her career she created hundreds of designs, for posters, murals, book covers, and even a U.S. Postal Service stamp. Her art, with a strong focus on messages of peace and love, gained popularity during the 60s and 70s. While her politics, geared toward activism and a strong opposition to war, led her to split from her Catholic order around that same time.

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Her Art: Corita Kent most often used popular culture as material for her art. Her screen prints would incorporate imagery from well-known products and brands alongside texts of a spiritual or peace-promoting leaning. In this way, she created a juxtaposition between acknowledged “art” and imagery most associated with American consumerism, art encountered in everyday life. She placed the ordinary with the holy, the picture on the front of the cereal box with the words of scholars and saints. As Harvey Cox, a theologian and friend of Kent’s, remarked, “Like a priest, a shaman, a magician, she could pass her hands over the commonest of the everyday, the superficial, the oh-so-ordinary, and make it a vehicle of the luminous, the only, and the hope filled.”

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Her Teaching: Whether the faith infused in Kent’s work is holy or human is irrelevant, because her body of work ultimately highlights the inherent fusion of both. As such, in her teaching, Corita Kent focused less on showing her students how to paint and draw and screenprint, and more on helping them see the world anew. She taught her classes to gain new perspectives with the help of a 35 mm slide mount that students could look through to frame compositions and images. She encouraged students to seek out revolution in their everyday. If you’re interested in experiencing Kent’s teachings firsthand, her book is linked below, and is chock-full of unique assignments for fostering creativity.

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Read More: 

Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent

Corita Kent: An overshadowed pop art icon

Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit by Corita Kent and Jan Steward

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An Afternoon of Art – Frost Art Museum

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Just because Chet works at Florida International University doesn’t mean we can’t play there too! Universities and colleges are a great resource for finding fun (and usually affordable) experiences and activities. On a recent rainy afternoon we headed to campus to check out the Frost Art Museum. There was no entrance fee and the staff at the desk explained what exhibits were up and where they were located within the museum. We set off down the hallway and were greeted by this installation by Pawel Nowak featuring Polish passport photos.

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Upstairs were the main exhibits. The rooms were gorgeously kept, with shiny wooden floors and the occasional skylight letting in peaks of natural light, and the art expertly displayed. Here’s what we saw —

Cartographies of Water by Rufina Santana

Santana’s art was deeply inspired by her homeland–The Canary Islands. The rugged volcanic rock shaping the islands, the exotic plant life, and of course the ocean are all expertly depicted in her work. It’s the endlessness of the sea, she says, which captivates her imagination. Just like a wide stretch of dark ocean waters, the paintings felt bold and expansive while also fearless.

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There Are No Other Everglades in the World by Jim Couper

Couper’s paintings highlight the characteristics unique to the Everglades, a distinct and fragile environment located no where else in the world. He utilizes a bright palette of colors to play with the various ways the sub-tropical light changes and transforms the magnificent waters. His brushstrokes reminded me of an Impressionist painter’s, like Claude Monet. I found myself wanting to jump into the canvas and live in one of these serene waterscapes.

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Green Machine by Carlos Luna

Luna is one of the foremost contemporary Cuban artists. He represents a generation of Cubans who embrace their heritage but also reinvent and adapt themselves to new trends and techniques. The exhibit featured a multitude of artistic media styles, including; painted canvas, mixed media work on paper, ceramics, and fine art tapestries. Luna is clearly a multi-talented artist. Working in Puebla, Mexico for 13 years after leaving Cuba, Luna now resides in Miami, and it was interesting to see the strong influences of those three places coalescing in his various pieces.

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Behind the museum is a lovely little lake watched over by this guy. Oh, Florida!

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We topped off our afternoon with iced coffees and a stroll through campus. The student union was buzzing with weekend activity. The space between buildings is full of great outdoor seating, including some contraptions which I feel are called gondolas but I really have no idea if they have a name. They’re essentially a picnic table…with a canopy for shade…and the whole thing swings back and forth. I. Want. One. Anywho, I can’t wait to go back to the museum as the exhibits change over the coming months! And I’m excited to discover what else FIU has to offer us. Perhaps a dance performance or a concert!?

Do you scope out activities at your local college campus? Would you? Do you have a favorite art museum? Let me know in the comments below!