Sister Corita, Celebrating MLK, Jr. & Kingian Stew

Jan 13, 2015

Corita-Kent-Go-SlowShe was born Frances Elizabeth. She became Sister Corita.

Sister Mary Corita Kent, originally from Fort Dodge, Iowa, became a Catholic nun, an artist, and an educator. The medium for her artistic expression was silkscreen or serigraphy.

Her works included messages of peace and love, which resonated during the social and political climate of the 60s and 70s. The 1985 United States’ annual “Love” stamp was designed by Sister Corita.




Corita Kent began using popular culture as raw material for her work in 1962. Her screen prints often incorporated the archetypical product of brands of American consumerism alongside spiritual texts.




Her design process involved appropriating an original advertising graphic to suit her idea; for example, she would tear, rip, or crumble the image, then re-photograph it. She often used grocery store signage, texts from scripture, newspaper clippings, song lyrics, and writings from literary greats such as Gertrude Stein, E. E. Cummings, and Albert Camus as the textual focal point of her work. (Source: Sister Corita by Evelyne Axell & Angela Stief as found on Wikipedia)




Pasadena Museum of California Art is planning the exhibit Someday Is Now: The Art of Corita Kent, which will open in June, but in connection MLK, Jr. Day and to celebrate two people who were committed to the Civil Rights Movement, the War on Poverty, and the Peace Movement, PMCA presents “Get with the Action: A Community Arts Festival” on Saturday, January 17th.




During the 1960s, Sister Corita created community art festivals, which became called “Mary’s Days.” It is in this spirit that everyone is welcome to come make banners and wearable art followed by a procession celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the idea of “health, individual and societal.”

From 10 a.m. to noon, people are welcome to come to All Saints Church in Pasadena and start creating. At noon, a procession (with musicians) will walk to PMCA, past City Hall, and to Day One. Day One is a sponsor of this event and provides public health education. Guests may then regroup at All Saints for a picnic and food trucks, such as Pie ‘n Burger and Crepe’n Around.




Get with the Action: A Community Arts Festival
Saturday, Jan. 17th, beginning at 10 a.m.
All Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave., Pasadena 91101
For more info, visit

“King Sunday Photography Exhibit”
Photographer Boyd Lewis spent 30 years in Atlanta, which was MLK, Jr.’s hometown. Boyd worked as a reporter, editor, columnist, radio personality, and a writer for CNN Evening Newscast. His photos will be on display in the Guild Room at All Saints on Sunday, Jan. 18th, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.


Photo c Boyd Lewis/Atlanta History Center

Photo c Boyd Lewis/Atlanta History Center


Mr. Lewis writes:
The photos show some of the people most influenced by King’s life and death. I didn’t know it but I was in the middle of magic, to be a professional observer of things, a reporter of magical changes in the camps of race and class. It was a moonshine-like ferment of urban comity and culture interacting in spirit of what might have been, at times, an actual a spirit of brotherhood. I spent the decade absorbing these influences in King’s city, King’s milieu. I was pickled in this Kingian stew. I usually did the pickling at the Stein Club on Peachtree. And so returns the past to light one corner of my dark and cynical view of USA-land in the 21st century. This whole enterprise is my tribute to Martin King, our fellow Atlantan.






Did You Know?

We have the History Channel to thank for these facts about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

  1. The civil rights leader was born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929. In 1934, however, his father, a pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, traveled to Germany and became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. As a result, King Sr. changed his own name as well as that of his 5-year-old son.
  2. King was such a gifted student that he skipped grades nine and 12 before enrolling in 1944 at Morehouse College, the alma mater of his father and maternal grandfather. Although he was the son, grandson and great-grandson of Baptist ministers, King did not intend to follow the family vocation until Morehouse president Benjamin E. Mays, a noted theologian, convinced him otherwise. King was ordained before graduating college with a degree in sociology.
  3. After earning a divinity degree from Pennsylvania’s Crozer Theological Seminary, King attended graduate school at Boston University, where he received his Ph.D. degree in 1955. The title of his dissertation was “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.”
  4. According to the King Center, the civil rights leader went to jail nearly 30 times. He was arrested for acts of civil disobedience and on trumped-up charges, such as when he was jailed in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956 for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone.
  5. On September 20, 1958, King was in Harlem signing copies of his new book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” in Blumstein’s department store when he was approached by Izola Ware Curry. The woman asked if he was Martin Luther King Jr. After he said yes, Curry said, “I’ve been looking for you for five years,” and she plunged a seven-inch letter opener into his chest. The tip of the blade came to rest alongside his aorta, and King underwent hours of delicate emergency surgery. Surgeons later told King that just one sneeze could have punctured the aorta and killed him. From his hospital bed where he convalesced for weeks, King issued a statement affirming his nonviolent principles and saying he felt no ill will toward his mentally ill attacker.
  6. King had come to Memphis in April 1968 to support the strike of the city’s black garbage workers, and in a speech on the night before his assassination, he told an audience at Mason Temple Church: “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now … I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
  7. George Washington is the only other American to have had his birthday observed as a national holiday.
    In 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill that created a federal holiday to honor King. The holiday, first commemorated in 1986, is celebrated on the third Monday in January, close to the civil rights leader’s January 15 birthday.



2 Responses for “Sister Corita, Celebrating MLK, Jr. & Kingian Stew”

  1. Sister Corita’s work influenced my grade school teachers. I have always felt a sense of purpose and serendipity in her work. Thanks for this article.

  2. Mary Lea Carroll says:

    I was in high school when Sister Corita was working and my art teacher had us doing all types of similar work. My entire sophomore year was about emulating her silk screens. I too have a very personal response to her work even today. Thanks!



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