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.
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Corita Kent-the name resounds with whispers, accusations, affirmations and acclaim. But, who was this woman? Rose Pacatte, FSP, answers that question in a balanced and substantive presentation that shows both the inherent talent and crusading spirit of the educator she experiences.
Suzanne Mayer, IHM
Corita Kent: Gentle Revolutionary of the Heart recalls a post-Vatican II "Catholic spring" withered by a tragic episcopal repression. The fallout: the dismantling of a respected Los Angeles women's religious congregation and the departure of Sister Corita Kent-a mystic who happened to be an artist. Corita's innovative serigraph art squeezed popular culture, social justice, and Gospel spirituality into graphics that still delight, disturb and inspire. Yet her personal journey-tinged with loneliness, doubt, and hinted-at regrets- resounds with "what ifs" and "if onlies" spawned by this collision of law and freedom.
Sister Judith Ann Zielinski, OSF, Writer/ Producer/ Documentary Filmmaker, NewGroup Media, South Bend, Indiana
Corita's life and art has struck a sensitive cord in writer Sister Rose Pacatte. She does not shy away from telling the painful history of the courageous IHM Community-which is essential to Corita's story. Artistically and spiritually, Corita has always been my hero. Her life has influenced my teaching in so many ways-her love of the city, her celebrations of the ordinary, her sacramental visual theology. Pacatte understands the struggle of an artist in an institutional lifestyle. She presents a very vivid picture of a creative, joyful woman who has been an inspiration to so many.
Sister Helen David Brancato IHM, Professor of Art, Villanova University
Corita Kent's art offers the sacred hidden in the ordinary. Rose Pacatte's compelling and balanced account of this significant modern artist's immersion into religious and public life reveals Corita as the sacred and ordinary woman she was. Corita Kent: Gentle Revolutionary of the Heart invites readers to view Corita's spirit-filled art with enriched understanding. Expect surprises.
Nan Deane Cano, IHM
Sr. Rose pulls out the threads of Corita's personality, personal history, and the events of her time, and weaves them together into a vivid image of Corita as woman, teacher, religious, social advocate, and friend. I gained a new appreciation for how Corita subverted the iconography of advertising and secular themes, to say something new-something sacred. She made pop art into spiritual statements and used it to do advocacy for peace and social justice. After reading Corita I could hardly wait to see her work again, this time viewing it with a new appreciation for its expression of Corita's free spirit.
Michele Morek, OSU, Sister Liaison, Global Sisters Report
Honest, provocative, fascinating, heartbreaking and finally inspiring, Rose Pacatte's beautifully written new biography of Corita Kent is sure to reinvigorate interest in one of the great Christian artists of our time.
James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage
Corita Kent's story, from her childhood landscape to her journey, both spiritual and aesthetic is told in a linear, intimate and unembellished style that draws the reader close through a clear lens. The writer's subdued affection for and admiration of her subject enables a nuanced understanding of Kent's likely inner dialogue. This influential artist and educator lived a complex emotional and philosophical existence, relayed as if one is being taken into confidence by a sister.
Sarah Yuster, Artist, documentary filmmaker
Pacatte probes with great delicacy and respect for the mind, heart, and spirit of one of the most intriguing artists and creative thinkers of the 20th century. Drawing upon the insights of those who knew Corita well, the author provides an intimate look into a woman whose spiritual journey led her directly into the heart of Mystery. Reading her life makes me want to follow Corita's counsel to her college art students and carry a small paper frame/viewfinder wherever I go as a reminder always to look upon the world from a variety of perspectives and never discard the belief that "possibility is a constant."
Annmarie Sanders, IHM, Director of Communications for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)
Sr Rose Pacatte exhibits a literary painting-a triptych of a life destined for permanent collection: a woman artist, catholic wanderer, and human wonderer. The author reveals a complicated person bound up in the struggles and celebrations of church, higher education, art history, and self. Sr. Rose chronicles her evolution as an artist, educator, and revolutionary mystic with uncommon insight and extensive knowledge of the subject located in both the religious and secular. This book is a magisterial contribution to the series and deserves wide circulation. Miguel de Unamuno, in his Tragic Sense of Life, closes the work with these words from the heart: "May God deny you peace, but grant you glory". Sr. Rose has issued, in vivid colors, a tribute to Corita that corresponds to Unamuno's sentiment!
Rev. Scott Young, President and Programmer, Culture Connection
Corita Kent's art and life were prisms, refracting and concentrating the speed-of-light forces shaping U.S. culture and religious life in the mid-20th century. Now is an excellent time to recall the beauty-and the cost-of standing in the midst of the Spirit's movement as Corita did. Sister Rose Pacatte is the perfect person remind us.
Beth Murphy, OP, Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois