“‘The Uncommon’ is a better name than ‘art.’”
If you’ve followed me for very long, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about the artist and educator Corita Kent. She’s showed up on this blog many, many times, and she was a huge influence on Keep Going: not only does she show up in chapter 5 and 10, she looked down on me from the top of the bulletin board when I was writing the book.
The city and county of Los Angeles have named today — November 20th — Corita Day in honor of her 101st birthday.
There are two books related to her that I think are really terrific:
1) Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent is a lovely introduction to her work (and unfortunately out of print)
2) Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit is a book I rank up there with some of my very favorite books about making art.
Learning By Heart has so much to teach not just the artist, but the parent. (One of the assignments is “Borrow a kid.”)
Here is luke 2.14, 51 — a gift from my wife that hangs in my office. Corita sent it to LBJ in 1963 “after reading that his wife Ladybird had been telling him to slow down.”
“We have no art,” she said. “We do everything as well as we can.” In this letter to the editor, she says she doesn’t think of what she does as art. “I just make things I like bigger, assuming that if I like them some other people might too.”
She taught her students to learn to see by looking at the world one piece at a time.
She took from advertising, but then she produced, it too — here are advertisements for Westinghouse Broadcasting Company.
Her pieces include quotes written in her own handwriting…
…pulled from all over the place — that’s Emerson, above, and here are pieces with quotes from Camus and Thoreau.
Here’s the thing she’s probably most famous for these days — the list of 10 rules for the art department at Immaculate Heart.
For more, the Corita Art Center has a great website, and the Hammer Museum has a wonderful digital archive of her work, too.
Happy birthday, Corita!