Then, during a recording for the Stacking Benjamins podcast, host Joe Saul-Sehy described to me a Camus quote he saw in a piece at the Detroit Institute of Arts. “It was handwritten on this print of a bag of Wonder Bread…”
The quote comes from “Create Dangerously,” a lecture delivered by Camus at the University of Uppsala in December 1957 (collected in the book Resistance, Rebellion, and Death).
Here it is in full:
Great ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves. Perhaps then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear, amid the uproar of empires and nations, a faint flutter of wings, the gentle stirring of life and hope. Some will say that this hope lies in a nation; others, in a man. I believe rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished by millions of solitary individuals whose deeds and works every day negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history. As a result, there shines forth fleetingly the ever threatened truth that each and every man, on the foundation of his own sufferings and joys, builds for all.
Corita used the Camus quote to emphasize that the artist can’t turn away from the world, but must find their work within it.
“Let us not look for the door, and the way out, anywhere but in the wall against which we are living,” Camus wrote. “Instead, let us seek the respite where it is—in the very thick of the battle.”
PBS’s The Art Assignment also recently shared this great 15-minute video about her work. It has a bunch of stuff I didn’t know, like how all art majors at Immaculate Heart had to be English minors, and Corita’s concept of “Plork,” a combination of play and work, the “one responsible act necessary for human advancement” that represents “the ecstasy we feel when work and play are one.” (I wish I’d remembered that bit of Learning By Heart when I wrote the “Your Work is Play” chapter of Keep Going!)