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Artifact of the Month: 10 Rules, Sister Mary Corita Kent’s Serigraphs

Posted by on May 5, 2014

While getting to know artist Nikki McClure better (her incredible work is featured in the MAH’s current exhibition), we discovered that Nikki has Sister Mary Corita Kent’s “Rules” posted in her studio for inspiration. The name rang a bell. Deep in the flat files of the MAH collection, we have two prints by Sister Mary Corita; never forgotten, but never shown before.

Mary Corita Kent (1918-1986) was an artist and educator committed to social justice and universal compassion. She was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Following her high school graduation, she joined the Roman Catholic order of Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Angeles.

Sister Mary Corita taught at the Immaculate Heart College in L.A. and was the chair of its art department. It was there that she created her 10 rules for the art department—and by which to live. Kent left the convent in 1968, and devoted the rest of her life to making art.

Most of Sister Mary Corita’s work is created using silkscreen and serigraphic techniques (like the works in the MAH’s collection). Her message of love and peace resonated with the social challenges of the 1960s-1970s, and continue to inspire artists like Nikki McClure today.

Sister Mary Corita Kent serigraphs, left-right, Bringing Bars of Silver, c. 1965 and Untitled, c. 1965

Sister Mary Corita Kent serigraphs, left-right, Bringing Bars of Silver, c. 1965 and Untitled, c. 1965

We have the 2 serigraphs by Sister Mary Corita on display. I see many MAH visitors stop and admire the works of bold colors. I saw a few people take a photo of Sister Mary’s 10 rules. One MAH collaborator, Peter McGettigan, came to me last month and said, “I haven’t thought about Sister Mary Corita in a long time. But this art brought back a lot of memories.”

Peter explained that his sister attended Immaculate Heart College. An all-girl school, a teen aged Peter occasionally “guest starred” in many of the college’s original theatrical productions. He knew Sister Mary pretty well. This was before Peter went on to work as an assistant and voice coach for the T.V. show “Gilligan’s Island.” He ran lines with Mrs. Howell (I was impressed by this, but that’s a whole different story).

My favorite rule of Sister Mary Corita’s is #9: “Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.” Amen.

10 Rules worth following.

10 Rules worth following.

  • Zoey Maltese

    Vote for this Photo called Quiet Santa Cruz Morning http://mycoastalphoto.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-photocontest/viewimg.php?img_id=2120&post_id=4231. Don’t forget to add your email address to confirm your vote.

  • http://michaeljohnweber.houzz.com Michael John Weber

    When I click on the photo fo the rules it still is too small for me to read – where can I find them in a format I can use?

    • Elise Granata

      Hi Michael– just enlarged the photo. Let me know if you have an easier time reading now.