Sister Corita’s Rules

Not long ago, I came across a set of rules written for, and by, students in the Art Department of Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles. The list was written in the 1960s under the leadership of Sister Mary Corita Kent, the Art Department’s longtime chair (1938-1968). I endorse the rules wholeheartedly for my students.


Sister Corita was a cultural figure of 1960s and 1970s, associated with the liberal wing of the Catholic Church and the country’s anti-war protests.  It was said that she was friends with other applied artists of the era: Saul Bass, Alfred Hitchcock, Buckminster Fuller and Charles and Ray Eames. Her graphic prints, which combined simple expressive drawings with bold color and type, became a symbol of her era.

Following political strife with her own church, Corita Kent left her religeous order (the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) in 1968, and moved to Boston where she continued life as an artist. She designed one of the most popular US Postal stamp ever, the “Love” stamp of 1985, a year before she died. Immaculate Heart College closed in 1981, due to financial troubles.

Further Observation
Anyone driving into Boston from south of the city since 1971, would know Corita Kent’s largest work, “Rainbow Swash,” the 150 foot high natural gas tank off of Route 93 in Dorchester. I remember so well being told as a child that the silhouette of Vietnam’s war leader, Ho Chin Min was hidden in the design (in the blue swash, looking left, with a long beard). It certainly looks like a bearded profile to me. That said, Corita Kent never owned up to the profile, so perhaps it’s an urban legend.


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