access order information FAQS
CANADIAN ORDERS EBOOK FAQS
2950 Saint John's Road
Collegeville, MN 56321
Gentle Revolutionary of the Heart
Rose Pacatte, FSP
ISBN: 9780814646625, 4662
Details: 128 pgs, 5 3/8 x 8 1/4
Publication Date: 05/18/2017
Corita Kent, an American nun and pop artist, led a life of creativity and love that took her in unexpected directions. In this engaging portrait, Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP, offers an in-depth look at Corita Kent, gentle revolutionary of the heart, letting the beauty and truth of her life and art speak for itself.
Frances Elizabeth Kent's rise to fame coincided with some of the most socially volatile years of the twentieth century. As Sr. Mary Corita of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters, she became a nationally-respected artist-though the Archbishop of her home city of Los Angeles regarded her work as blasphemous. Seeing no contradiction between the sacred and the secular, Corita designed the US Postal Service's iconic "Love" stamp and created the largest copyrighted work of art in the world, on a gas tank for the Boston Gas Company. These examples and more exemplify the theology and point of view of one of the twentieth century's most famous and fascinating artists.
Sister Rose Pacatte, FSP, is a Daughter of St. Paul and the founding director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Los Angeles. Rose has an MA in Education in Media Studies from the University of London and is a candidate for a Doctorate in Ministry in Pastoral Communications. In addition to being a course designer and facilitator for the University of Dayton's online faith formation program, she is the film columnist for St. Anthony Messenger, and a regular contributor to the National Catholic Reporter on film and popular culture. Her previous book for the People of God series is Martin Sheen: Pilgrim on the Way published by Liturgical Press.
Visit PeopleofGodBooks.org to explore more of the books in this engaging series. You'll find author interviews, videos, reading group materials, and more!
Q & A with Sr. Rose Pacatte, author of
Corita Kent: Gentle Revolutionary of the Heart
What is the take away from Corita Kent’s life?
Her art, her soul. Her life. Her journey. These may have led her out of the Church, but why? This is what this biography explores. Frankly, I think she was too tired to deal with the nonsense and the pressure. She taught for thirty years but it was always an effort for her – she was really an artist. When you go against yourself for that long a time, even if you think it is God’s will, and don’t deal with your issues in some way, and you cannot sleep night after night, month after month, year after year, then comes the fog of Vatican II and the unfairness of a person like Cardinal McIntyre who had all the power -- if you cannot breathe, you walk away because you need to preserve yourself. And you know that God loves, sees and knows all.
Corita Kent is not unlike Simone Weil or Charles Peguy. They were Catholic in the best way they knew how and the Church rather does claim them.
What is the most compelling aspect of her life?
It’s not just one thing. Her vision, her strength and ability to dwell in the disorientation of her times for so long and then to journey to a place of transition to a healthier way of being and still share her gift of art. She always embraced love, social justice, creativity, beauty and the bringing together of faith and life. She surrendered to the mystery of God. As an art educator she distinguished clearly between art and the reality of what it represented.
You wrote the life of Martin Sheen in 2015 for the People of God Series and interviewed him, family members and friends for the book. Corita died in 1986. Whom did you interview and did you get the sense that you “knew” Corita when you completed the book?
I was able to interview Helen Kelley, the former president of Immaculate Heart College, several other former members of the Immaculate Heart Sisters and former students – some were both - as you will read in the book. It’s interesting because no one could really say they were friends with her in the way that sisters in a religious community can be – even if they worked or traveled with her. Yet, she was always present to the sisters and her students and participated in the life of her community – even the minutiae of daily life like serving at table. She was an observant religious. A former student, and an Emmy Award winning writer, Patt Shea, told me that every time she stopped by the art studio in the 1960s that Corita now headed, the nun was impatient at being interrupted and not so welcoming as previously.
When she left the community, she disconnected with many of her sister friends and later re-engaged with some of them. She remained closest to her married sister Mary Catherine always, but not so much with her sister Ruth who was a member of the IHM Sisters that stayed after Cardinal McIntyre, for all intent and purpose, disbanded the religious congregation. Corita left her art and the proceeds from her art to the lay Immaculate Heart Community that was founded in 1970. Corita loved the community very much.
Corita was close to the artist Mickey Myers, a former student, as you will see in the book. Mickey’s letters to Corita are in the archive at the Schlesinger Library at Harvard and they reflect the trust, familiarity, and respect that exist between close friends. Corita was capable of friendship but she was very selective about whom she chose to let enter her inner circle.
So to answer your question, as a biographer I don't feel as close to Corita as I feel toward Martin Sheen. His sister, Carmen Estevez, for example, was very open and generous about Martin and their family during the writing process and after. Different personalities and access to the subject of a book make a big difference, I think. Perhaps this is the distinction between writing a biography of a living person and the distance that exists with someone who has died. I can say this; while it may not be universally true, everyone I interviewed about Corita admires her and loves her still. I am definitely a fan.
This is a book about an artist, yet there are no reproductions in it. What is the best resource for materials on Corita?
The Corita Art Center http://corita.org contains an archive and is a great central source for Corita’s art, books, posters and videos. The bibliography in my book, however, offers more titles than the center does at this time. The interview she did for the UCLA Oral History archive is online and well worth the listen. http://oralhistory.library.ucla.edu/viewItem.do?ark=21198/zz0008z9kb&title=Kent,%20Corita
Is Corita Kent still relevant?
Absolutely. Her pop art serigraphs remain fresh and prophetic forty years later; her watercolors reflect gentleness and beauty. Her hands-on educational techniques and approach to art education continue to inspire teachers. She continues to inspire artists and teachers. Her rainbow on the Boston Gas Tank along they city’s Southeast Expressway appears in many films and television shows about Boston, for example the 2005 film “Fever Pitch” with Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore.