Corita Lecture 10-1-09


Uploaded by gonzagau on 19.05.2010

Transcript:
[ Sound effects and silence ]
>> Good evening everyone.
[Inaudible background discussion] Welcome
to the Jundt Art Museum.
I am Karen Kaiser, Assistant Curator for Education,
and on behalf of Scott Patnode and myself I'd
like to welcome you to this evening's lecture,
Breaking All the Rules.
We're all anxious to begin but before we do The Jundt would
like to thank several people for their contributions
to the exhibition Corita.
First we thank our good friend Katherine Barbieri
for her sponsorship of the exhibit,
the tri-fold publication and lecture this evening.
Also Bud Barnes for his [Inaudible]
from his personal collection, Sasha Carrera,
who is with us tonight for providing digital images
and the provision to use them in our publications, Barbara Loste
for her In Cycle essay on Corita for the exhibit brochure,
and as always we thank Anita Martel, our program coordinator
and all around office maiden, our Docent and student workers
who help us in way too numerous to mention.
Exhibit Spokane and In the Arcade Gallery continues
until November 14th, and The Day of the Dead Memorial
for Spokane Artist, Reuben Trejo can be viewed
through November 18th.
The exhibition Corita is open through December 12th
and on Saturday's the public is invited to view Primary Colors,
a film about the life and work of Corita here
in the Jundt Auditorium.
Barbara Loste tells me that if you watch carefully you'll see
here in the film and she's in Corita's classroom,
but she's kind of pulling back her long hair is what she
tells me.
[Laughter] Barbara Loste must have sensed that she was witness
to and participant in something extraordinary
when she was a student at Immaculate Heart College
in Los Angeles in the 1960s.
That's something, the happenings, the sit-ins,
the art were at once life changing and life affirming.
Her art teacher, Corita embodied the spirit of creativity
and conflict that became the sign of the times.
In years to follow Loste would be inspired and driven in part
by the influence of this remarkable woman.
An accomplished scholar and writer, Barbara worked
for 18 years as a designer and curator in Mexico and Chile.
She designed projects for sustainable development
in Central America and in the Caribbean.
Loste has a master's degree in communications
from the National Autonomist University of Mexico and a PhD
in leadership studies from Gonzaga University.
Her dissertation was a biography
of her former teacher, Corita Kent.
The Jundt Art Museum is pleased to welcome our speaker
for the evening, Barbara Loste.
[Applause]
>> Well thank you all for being here tonight
and especially thank you to Scott and Karen
for making it possible for me to talk about one
of my very favorite artists.
Corita was in fact a prolific 20th century American artist
and she was by all accounts a celebrated teacher.
In fact, she considered herself sometimes more a teacher
than an artist.
But she had a third profession as well,
and the third profession is one that I'd
like to address right now.
Sister Corita was a nun.
And some of you in this audience tonight may be women religious.
Some of you, I know at least one of them,
were women religious and no longer are.
And perhaps some of you were taught by nuns and remember
that with mixed messages or with good messages, it all depends.
But in any case there are many stereotypes about nuns
and I want to dispatch with this right off the bat.
[Laughter] All nuns take vows of chastity, poverty and obedience
and many people believe that those rules were so hard
to follow that all nuns were very frustrated and mean
and they rapped their children's knuckles in school
and made them miserable and go home crying to their parents.
Then there's the other stereotype of nuns who break
out in spontaneous song [Laughter] they're noble,
they're talented, they save whole families from the Nazi's
or they're just darn right funny, like Whoppie Goldberg.
Then there's a more recent Hollywood addition
to the nun story and that's Meryl Streep.
Meryl Streep as the stern whistle-blower
who still is doubtful about whether she's right or wrong,
but stern throughout, and then there's Amy Adams
who is the naive, obedient, solicitous, young nun.
I would like to remind people that these are all stereotypes.
In the mid 1950s American Catholic nuns,
which is when Corita was beginning to become a printer,
were becoming the group
of the most highly educated women in this country.
And the convent offered them educational opportunities,
who like Corita had experienced the great depression
as children.
Corita as a child had rickets,
which means that perhaps her nutrition wasn't exactly
up to snuff and yet she went on to join the convent
and find their community of women
who supported her in every way.
She was the fifth of six children
of a working class Irish family.
She was born in Iowa.
The family migrated to Vancouver looking for work, Vancouver,
BC and finally took a boat down to Los Angeles
where they settled in what she called,
"A nice little neighborhood in Hollywood."
And in fact, Hollywood was a little dingy neighborhood.
And if any of you have been there,
and many of you probably have,
it's not the glamour that you think it is.
She went to Catholic school and she used to walk
down Sunset Boulevard and I think these childhood walks
through the city of Los Angeles influenced her throughout
her life.
She became a woman of streets really.
She was influenced by everything that was around her.
She graduated from Immaculate Heart College.
She got a master's degree from UFC in 1951 in art history.
Let's look at the real Corita.
Sister Mary Corita took the name, this name,
when she entered the convent at the age of 18.
She left the Catholic school where she went,
Blessed Sacrament and took off her school uniform,
went to Chouinard Art School for the summer and then took
on the habit and became a nun.
Here you can see Corita doing silk screen printing,
which was perhaps her most important medium.
It was her signature medium.
Later on in life, and we'll see some images
of that, she did other things.
But for those of you who may not know what serigraphy is
or what silk screen printing is, I'd like to point
out that serigraphy, lithography, etchings
and wood engravings are some of the forms
of fine print making most commonly use by artists today.
17th century Japanese wood block prints are often referred
to as the historic bellwether of print makers
and serigraph printing is a method
for creating multiple images by forcing inks onto a flat surface
through a taut mesh, in this case silk,
by means of a rubber spatula.
It's quite simple really.
Serigraphy was a medium favored
by many artists during the new deal in the United States
because multiples were easy to make and were less expensive
to sell and to circulate.
For the next 35 years after Corita learned
to silk screen print she produced over 700 prints
and she taught silk screening to hundreds of students.
She learned silk screening quite by accident when one
of her students said, "Hey I know somebody
who knows a technique you ought to learn."
And the woman who taught her was a woman named Maria Martinez,
who was the wife of a Mexican muralist who had recently died
and Maria taught herself to silk screen
so that she could reproduce her husband's work.
This is one of Corita's earliest
and perhaps most celebrated works from her early period,
this beginning of miracles.
If you look into her art Cortia took the ordinary stuff
of urban life and elevated it to a place of visual prophecy.
She took the common place and transformed it
into compelling and uncommon stories.
If you look carefully at this print in the lower,
on the right side, right in the middle,
you'll see images of Eames chairs.
She was very influenced by Charles and Ray Eames
and at the top on the left-hand side you'll see what looked
like TV antennas.
She was already beginning then
to take what you might consider the profane
and put it on top of the sacred.
And here's another of her early pieces 1956 and it looks to be
that this has at least six colors and Corita once said--
her world history was actually done
by a man named Bernard Galm in 1977 at UCLA.
And one of the things that she said, which really struck me,
she said, "The word artist seems terribly pretentious to me.
I just put words and shapes together."
This piece was the first piece that I could find
where she introduces words into her work.
And this will become absolutely important in all of her work
and you'll notice later on that calligraphy
and quotes are part of her message.
She was a voracious reader.
She was an insomniac and she spent night after night reading
from a wide variety of sources.
But if you look at this one,
the way the type is written, it's really lovely.
He came toward them on the left side, walking over the sea
on the right side, a beautiful print.
I'm going to jump forward to her later works,
actually including one
of the pieces she did a year before she died.
These two words represent her largest
and her smallest pieces of public art.
The gas tank which is outside of Boston with a rainbow image,
which became part of her symbolism used on some
of the love stamp was 150 feet tall.
She was a tiny woman.
She probably weighed 98 pounds.
She was five foot two.
To create such a huge piece
of public art was really quite an accomplishment.
The smallest piece of public art was the US postal service
love stamp.
There were over 700 million of those printed and if noted
that somebody pointed out to me, it's only 22 cents.
[Laughter] Here's a girly picture of silk screen studio
at Immaculate Heart College
where Sister Corita not only taught
but later became the chair of the art department.
This medium serigraphy or silk screen printing was used
by many mid 20th century artists and you now them all.
The names are popular Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein,
Robert Indiana, James Rosenquist, Larry Rivers,
Jim Dine, Tom Wesselmann and many others.
I stole these off the internet so the pictures are not quite
as nice as they should be but this is a celebration
that took place at Immaculate Heart College starting
in the 1960s.
It was called Mary's Day.
It was a day to celebrate Mary.
I believe that it was really a proto-feminist event
and it was really pre-Judy Chicago, pre feminism.
Judy Chicago's dinner party
in the 1970s changed the way we look at art
as a feminist message.
But these celebrations that were held annually on campus
with banners and signs and all kinds
of celebrations were influenced by Chinese New Year
and the Latino street festivals and I know
that because Corita went every year accompanied
by her mentor Sister Magdaline Mary
who everybody called Maggie.
She went to New York every year and she said she was standing
on a balcony overlooking a Chinese New Year event
and she said, "Oh my God, that's something we have
to do at the college."
Based on that she created this piece called Mary Does Laugh,
but Corita got into trouble for some of this.
One of things she said was
that Corita was the juiciest tomato of them all.
She has a print that says that and she sings and runs
and wears bright orange
and today she'd probably be doing her shopping
at the Market Basket, which was the supermarket
across the street.
By the time Corita was working 19th century impressionist
artist Burt Moroso of France
and American Mary Cassatt had made it
into the art history books.
Later, much later we begin to recognize Frida Kahlo,
Faith Ringold, Elizabeth Caplan, Tina Moroti, Judith Leister
and others would follow but if compared to the number
of celebrated mail artists,
and these numbers confirm the emission and the silence
around women as protagonists within the art history cannon,
its not surprising then
that male artists influenced Corita quite a bit.
She claimed she learned about plain color fields
from Mark Rothco and on her yearly trips to New York
and her sometimes trips to Europe she was able to work
with Milton Avery, Ben Shahn
and especially the abstract expressionists.
She said, "I found it much more my thing to be non-figurative."
In learning by her teachings to free the creative spirit,
which Scott has put in the exhibit
and has been reprinted this year with great color and beauty,
it's a compilation of Corita's teaching methodology she writes,
"We can all talk.
We can all write and if the blocks are removed we can all
draw and paint and make things.
Creativity belongs to the artist in each of us.
As teachers we participate and empower people
to be the artists that they are."
Jan Stewart who was the co-author with Corita
and a former student summarized her teaching this way:
"Corita's teaching was perhaps her most
outstanding accomplishment.
No one has ever equaled her ability
to absolutely elevate students and make them believe
that could do actually something.
Corita assumed a lot.
She assumed we could and do everything that she asked
for and everybody did.
It was her real genius."
And I know there are many of you who are teachers
in the room tonight and I invite you to take a look at this book
and I brought a copy of it with me
because her teaching methodology is about creativity and all
of you are teaching creativity
to your students no matter what your discipline is.
[Inaudible] This was obviously one of her pieces that shows
that typography was really where she was heading.
Artist Ben Shahn called Corita,
"An artist who revolutionized type design."
After that she became known as the joyous revolutionary
and it's a brand that stuck with her throughout her life.
And she said once, "People come up to me
and say how joyous I must be.
She said nah, nah, nah, making art is a lot of hard work."
She said, "I think of letters as much objects as people
or flowers or other subject matter.
I think a picture with all words is as much a picture
as something with abstract or recognizable shapes.
It's a matter of spacing and the totality of the picture."
When you go into the exhibit you'll see that Scott has placed
on the wall ten rules for teachers and students
that Corita invented with her students
and when you see the film you'll see her working
with her students and yes I was at the table.
And here are some of the rules that she invented
for her students and I'm going to talk about a few of them.
Rule number one find a place you trust
and then try trusting it for a while.
Consider everything an experiment.
Nothing is a mistake.
There's no win and no fail, there's only make.
After all of these staged rules she reached finally deep
into her pocket and pulled out rule number ten,
we're breaking all the rules, even our own rules.
And how do we do that, by leaving plenty of room
for X quantities, John Cage.
And then finally as if that weren't enough, she said,
"There should be numerals by next week."
[Laughter] This is one of Corita's signature pieces,
and it was one of the pieces that made art critics
in her day call her a pop artist.
And I think it has some of the sensibilities of pop art,
the broad shapes, the solid colors,
the use of popular images.
This looks like it comes from a sign or maybe a street sign
and the text in that little gray band on the right says,
when I choose a word it means just what I choose it
to mean, Lewis Carroll.
And I compare it just a bit
with this Marilyn image of Andy Warhol.
I could have chosen any image but Marilyn one does just well
because I think that Andy Warhol was the pop artist.
His 15 minutes of fame was very different
from Corita's deep commitment to social justice,
her deep spiritual vein of commitment to humanity
and so I distinguish her in that sense from him.
One of the reasons why I chose to put this piece up is that one
of Corita's use of typography,
one of the things she does is she invites you
to read very slowly.
She invites you to read slowly and
yet the letters are not important in and of themselves.
She introduces a word in Arabic.
Are there any Arabic speakers here who know what that means.
And then if you look at the text on the right, she helps you
to read by changing the colors between orange and yellow,
if you follow the yellow down, cold, clear, well water.
And that was an ad that we took that from some magazine.
Every soul is like a tiny drop
without which the world would thirst.
The big G stands for goodness and you can interpret
that however you want to, but we do know
that it was a slogan from General Mills.
I want to point out here that Corita like most nuns often,
well not Corita,
but traditionally nuns left their work unsigned
and often their work was given away which meant that it was
to remain basically invisible.
Corita not only signed her work
but she hand printed her serigraphs in editions
that were usually in sizes of 200 on the average.
The prints originally sold for ridiculously low prices.
The current market value has gotten a lot higher
and Sasha will tell you about that.
Here she is with her typography again and she's beginning
to be much more committed to the world around her.
She quotes Dan Berrigan in here and she begins by saying,
"When I hear bread breaking, I see something else."
And then she says, "Sometime
in your life I hope you might see one starved man,
the look on his face when the bread finally arrives"
and she calls it Greetings.
Dan Berrigan for those of you
who don't know was a Jesuit priest who was a social activist
and we'll see a piece that was dedicated to him later on.
Corita once said, and of course these are all street signs,
Corita once said, "There's nothing wrong with the ordinary,
there's just simply lots of it."
[Laughter] Here she quotes the Beatles, Lennon and McCartney,
"I get by with a little help from my friends."
As I mentioned she walked down Sunset Boulevard as a child
and I think she learned as a very young child
to embrace everything around here.
By 1967 the civil rights movement
of the Vietnam War were stimulating a lot of awareness
in society and clearly within Corita and she quotes one
of the professors, my English professor
at Immaculate Heart was a man named Gerald Huckabee
who is a poet and I just pulled a little piece
out from his quote, "I am in Vietnam, who will console me.
I'm terrified of bombs, of cold wet leaves,
of bamboo splinters in my feet."
And she also dedicates one piece to Ceasar Chavez,
a very important Chicano civil rights activist and part
of it says, "In the vineyards were the grapes
of wrath are stored the poorest
of the poor begin an epic struggle
against the masters of the land."
Kings Dream in 1969, "If they get me crucified I may even die
but I want it said that he died to make men free."
Some of you may remember if you were alive at that time
that Martin Luther King was brutally assassinated
on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee
and Corita was well aware of the impact that he was having
on her life and the life of anybody who believed
in the civil rights struggle.
And here is part of the quote and you'll see
that here calligraphy is almost illegible there
but it's almost worth reading slowly.
One of the things that Scott so brilliantly did
in the exhibit is he pulled these quotes out
and you can read them in the label.
It's a little bit easier than trying to read her calligraphy.
But here's a little piece that she quotes Alan Watts
about people, "Through understanding the creative power
of the female from the negative of empty space and of death,
we may at last become completely alive in the present."
And that quote is looking in the face of Corretta Scott King,
Martin Luther King's widow.
Robert F. Kennedy was then assassinated on June 6,
1968 in Los Angeles, California and there's a quote from him
that apparently he said when he was in Los Angeles at the time,
"Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts
to improve the lot of others or strikes out in its injustice,
he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope."
And finally going back to Martin Luther King again,
and I think this is definitely a call for non-violence,
"We must use the weapon of love.
We must have compassion
and understanding for those who hate."
You can see what she's done is put all these quotes on top
of images coming out of newspapers of the day.
Finally Dan and Phil 1969,
Phil and Dan Berrigan were close friends of Corita's.
They often came to Immaculate Heart College
and it was a pleasure to meet them when they did.
And I'm going to quote part of this for you.
Thoreau once said, "Under a government
which imprisons unjustly, the true place
for a just man is also in prison.
To me therefore prison is a very creative way to say yes
to life and not to war."
Thomas Lewis, Catonsville 9.
On May 17, 1968 nine men
and women entered the selective service office in Catonsville,
Maryland and removed draft records and burned them
with homemade mapon in protest against the war in Vietnam.
The nine were all arrested in highly publicized trial
and they were sentenced to jail.
Here is a very interesting opportunity for Corita
to do what she does best and that is to juxtapose images
and text coming from entirely sources.
"I do not ask the wounded person how he feels.
I myself become the wounded person", Walt Whitman.
And if you look in the middle of the green part of the image
at the bottom, there is a slave ship.
Let's move on to a lighter note.
Corita was an amazing teacher.
I've already said that.
And if you see her there she is showing films in the classroom
and she's wearing a Mary Meko outfit.
This was towards the end of her career as a nun and teacher.
For those of you who don't know what Mary Meko is
and probably some of you don't, she was a Finish designer
who made beautiful cotton clothing
that was actually quite costly.
It was a little bit like your teacher showing
up wearing Eileen Fisher in the classroom.
Very expensive, tasty, lovely cotton clothing, and mini skirts
by the way, she had great legs.
Some of the people that she attracted
to Immaculate Heart College in her great men series,
she'd had to call it something else today, but great men
at the time were designers Ray and Charles Eames,
Buckman Sir Fuller, physicians John Cage, Rabi Shankar,
social activist Daniel and Phil Berrigan, Jim Forest,
writers Henry Miller and Ray Bradbury and at the end
of her life she was friends also
with [Inaudible] filmmakers Alfred Hitchcock
and Baylis Glascock.
Baylis Glascock was a filmmaker who made the beautiful film
that you can see if you want to in the gallery.
Immaculate Heart College when I was there from 1965
to 1968 was I guess the epicenter of Catholic cool.
It was amazing.
We had lunch-- I had lunch.
I sat next to Mr. Fuller.
These people came and actually talked to us.
It was an amazing experience.
But it didn't go unnoticed to the Catholic hierarchy.
Corita was on the cover of Newsweek Magazine in 1967
as the nun going modern,
and frankly she was causing some trouble down at the chancellery.
[Laughter] Here is an image which I think speaks to her need
to bring some sense to bear on this hostility that not only she
but all of the Immaculate Heart nuns, the whole community were
under by Cardinal McIntire who was the Cardinal at the time.
Let the sun shine in the creative revolution
to take a chunk of the imagined future and put it
into the present and this gentleman
who signs it was a peace activist.
Let the sun shine in.
Help me somebody, pop music, Hair.
[Inaudible background discussion] Right, good,
direct reference to the Vatican too.
Corita became a lightening rod for the wrath
of Cardinal McIntire in particular at the time.
These uppity women wanted to do things
like actually participate more in mass and change
from their habits and street clothing
and rule their own classes.
It wasn't much that they were asking
but he was not happy with that.
So here's Corita again wearing Mecko.
She finally made a break.
In 1968, I don't think it was an easy decision for her,
she was 50 years old, which at the time probably seemed quite
old and she left the convent.
She resigned of her teaching position as chair
of the art department and moved to Boston.
These were some of her images that she started creating
after she left the convent.
Let me go back.
It was a quote that I wanted to tell you about this one.
At this time she started using a piece of a quote
from E. E. Cummings as one of her fanatic things
about her work and we'll see a piece of it later
and what's called, Damn Everything but the Circus.
Here the poet reads in part, "Damn everything that is grim,
dull, motionless, unrisking, inward turning, damn everything
that won't get into the circle that won't enjoy,
that won't throw it's heart into the tension, surprise,
fear and delight of the circus."
That's a breakaway moment isn't it?
So here she is with her international flight series
and I spoke to a woman who was actually the keeper
of Corita's estate about the series.
Just recently I received an email from her and she tells me
that this was inspired from Corita's first summer
out of the convent when she spent the summer on Cape Cod
with her friend Cecilia Hubbard who was the director
of the Botak Gallery in Boston
and she discovered the international co-clinics
that festooned the sailing ships.
And here's one of them and Scott is the proud collector
of the whole collection and not many people can say that.
And she here calls V is for vibrations.
"It's really that every moment is important
and to just dig it", George Harrison.
Here is the international flag coat series again Scott has been
a prolific collector of these.
Throw caution to the wind, N is for caution
and the text actually says," Throw Caution to the Wind"
and then she quotes Leonard Cohen who has to be one
of her favorite singers right?
"A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human
possibility" and S is for saint.
And this is probably one of my favorite Corita pieces.
Somebody asked me before if I had a favorite piece.
This piece does it for me.
The ground work doesn't show until one day.
Corita lived alone in Boston in a small apartment.
She had to downsize because she moved a couple of times
and she said she used to sit and watch a tree outside the window
of her apartment and monitor it throughout the seasons.
So I'm wondering that that wasn't one
of the trees she was following.
This is a beautiful piece
"Life is a complicated business fraught
with mystery and some sunshine."
I love this piece, "If a man does not keep pace
with his companions, perhaps it
because he hears a different drummer.
Thoreau." I love it because when she left the convent,
moved to the east coast she started becoming a
water-colorist and she would go out on watercoloring retreats
and sprees with a friend and you can see a lot of loose work here
that is very different.
This is not her average piece.
It's paint, very painterly.
It's very disjointed.
I think it's quite beautiful.
And one of the things she did was while she was doing
watercolors she would paint crocuses,
aren't they croaked already?
[Laughter] Anyway Corita was a passionate photographer.
Anyway Corita was a passionate photographer all of her life.
So these could have come from photographs as well.
She later became, as I said a water-colorist
and these are prints that were made each one representing a
different season.
And here is one of her damn everything but the circus tents,
a bold, beautiful statement of attitude
that she's becoming a new woman on her own.
I would like to also share with you some of the press
that Corita received during and right
after her death, during her lifetime.
Corita threatens this sensually, masculine, terribly efficient,
chancery written, law-abiding file cabinet church
and that was Newsweek.
The religion editor of Newsweek wrote that
and then the New Yorker, "She has always concentrated
on silk screen prints, an activity that puts her somewhere
in between Rembrandt and Gutenberg."
The New York Times in her obituary said,
"Sister Corita the nun did for bread
and wine what Andy Warhol did for tomato soup."
[Laughter] And finally her good friend Daniel Berrigan sums it
up, "She merely steps outside the rules and does her dance."
I'm going to tell you that something happened in 2004
that changed our image of Corita
and that was an important book published by Julie Alt,
a New York curator, she not only lives in New York,
she lives in California too, a curator who did a serious,
I would say the ultimate study of Corita's work called,
Come Alive the Spirit of Sister Corita.
And there's a story to tell here and Scott I hope you don't mind
if I tell stories out of school here but Scott
over ten years ago-- about ten years ago put
on a watercolor exhibit of Corita's watercolors
and a New York artist who was once a former student
of Scott's named Jim Hodges came to see that exhibit
and he was bowled over.
He said, "This stuff is fabulous.
I've got to call my friend Julie Alt and tell her all about it",
which he did and the result is this incredible book
of Corita's work.
It's in the exhibit so I won't bother to show it to you now,
but afterwards I can show it to you.
And I want to quote something
that Julie Alt said just recently in an email to me.
She said, "Corita was resolutely unconventionable
and unclassificable.
She created her own language.
She focused on the creative process rather
than on the product.
Corita is always timely.
Ever since I encountered her work in 1996, thanks to Scott,
I witnessed waves of interest and excitement over it
as new audiences come into sensibility and art.
Her spirited language, her aesthetic exuberance and sense
of play invite discovery and celebration again and again.
Corita's artistic and graphic innovations
of 40 years ago speak freshly
to current art and design practices.
Her social consciousness
and anti-war stance connect with us right now.
Corita is good nourishment."
And if you remember the first slide I showed you
of Corita's silk screening there was a picture of Sheperd Ferry
who was the man who designed the hope Obama poster.
He is influenced by Corita and is a silk screen artist
and I think Sasha is going to talk a little bit more
about the kind of people who are beginning to come
and show more interest about Corita's work.
This was an exhibit at Cal State Northridge last year
and I wanted to show it because students love Corita's work
and they loving going to it.
I'm sure the exhibit here will be filled with students as well.
Here's another Cal State Northridge, Sasha sitting
with Baylis planning all kinds of good things.
And this is a picture and on the left the woman
in the brown shirt is Jan Stewart
who actually wrote the Learning by Heart book with Corita
and I went down for the book launch because I was lucky
to be invited to write the introduction to that book.
So we did a lot of silk screening that day.
We silk screened on tee shirts and banners.
It was a beautiful day wasn't it Sasha?
>> It was great.
>> So without further ado I would like to introduce you
to Sasha Carrera who is the director
of the Corita Art Center and welcome from Los Angeles.
[Applause]
>> Thanks Barbara.
It's always so exciting to hear people who actually were there
and knew Corita and don't just like read in books and try
to piece it together the way I have to do.
[Laughter] Okay so I'm Sasha Carrera
and I'm very happy to be here.
I'm so grateful for Barbara and Karen
and Scott this amazing exhibition that they've done
and they invited me to come and be part of.
I'm really grateful that all of you are here.
It's a full house.
We never get this at the Corita Arts Center.
Okay, so when Corita died she left her personal collection
of work to the Grunwald Center for Graphic Arts
at the Harrow Museum at UCLA and her unsold prints she gave back
to the former sisters of the Immaculate Heart community
with the idea that the would sell them
to fund their good works.
Ninety percent of the order left the church
about a year after Corita did.
They reformed as an independent ecumenical community still
dedicated to the same causes of social justice
but no longer monitored and overseen by the Catholic Church
so they started the Corita Art Center and we're located
on the campus of Immaculate Heart High School in Hollywood.
This is our building.
And this is-- Corita's personal facts, some of the designs
that she made, letters and papers and that sort
of thing she also divided, so a good portion of them went
to the Schlesinger Library at Radcliff College and a lot
of them also came back to us and there's a story
of when Corita dropped her box of things off
at Radcliff College the same day
that Julia Child was dropping her box off.
[Laughter] This is what the Corita Art Center looks like.
We're a hallway and we don't get a lot of groups in
but we try to get groups in.
We encourage student groups to come
and this is a student group coming into sort
of the main hallway of the gallery
and we have a big conference room
where we have a lot of the work up.
So we preserve Corita's art and ephemera
and we have silk screen prints but we also have lots
of photographs and things that she designed like calendars
and plates and book jackets and that kind of thing.
When I started at the Corita Arts Center I was hired
as a part-time educator coordinator so my efforts were
to bring Corita's work to libraries and schools
and to do educational projects that would introduce kids
to Corita's work and because we're very,
very standard oriented in California,
it doesn't have anything to do with writing, or reading
or math, they don' want it,
and Corita's work really lends itself to literacy programs.
So that's what I focused a lot of doing.
We've had a lot of success.
This is a class that did a whole project.
Their pieces that they created inspired by Corita got them
to do more writing than the teacher had been able
to get them to do all year.
And their final end of the year project was
to create a gallery exhibition of their work.
And the principal was so impressed
that he had her teach the rest of the school the same project
to encourage their students.
Then I started to do art integration and teacher training
to try to get teachers to do more of this, bring the arts
into their classrooms
and we expanded beyond just visual arts.
We did theater games and we had bamboo flutes
and indigenous music and it was in the spirit of Corita
where it's really about taking what's around you
and making something out of it.
A lot of the schools don't have money to invest in a lot
of new things and they have to see what's at hand
that they can continue things for teaching.
We had our first big exhibition at the Claremont graduate school
of theology and that was pretty much putting works in the car,
driving them over there.
They wanted them and it was a pretty big deal
and the attitudes then were Corita created
for the 1964-65 world's fair.
This was the first time
that this one had been exhibited publicly so far as I know
because the one that went
to the world's fair was a different one.
It is currently on loan to the Los Angeles cathedral.
Around that time my former boss, Peggy Kaiser, retired
and I was made director of the Corita Arts Center
and so taking the focus off of education I really tried
to get the work out there to broader audiences.
Basically anybody that would show it,
I would take the work there.
Volunteers in the community would lend me their SUVs
and we would drive the works to San Diego, San Luis Obispo
and you can see that we have varying degrees
of success at these shows.
And then Julie's book came and life changed as we know it.
When Julie's book, the first book launch was
at Between Bridges in London,
which is Wolfgang Thomas' gallery and I don't know
if you all know Wolfgang Thomas but he's
like a rock star in England.
He's a photographer.
Although his work has been recognized here, he's like,
he's seriously rock star, photographer, artist in Europe.
So this was a huge opening and we had panel discussions
and we had-- there were students all over the gallery
and it was just a really phenomenal opening
and we got a lot of interest after that.
There was the Believers Exhibition at Mass MoCA.
We had the Dundee Contemporary Arts in Scotland.
We were part of groups chosen in Santa Fe, New Mexico,
St. Ives in the UK, which also traveled
on to Bordeaux in France.
We continued to facilitate smaller gallery shows in places
like Fargo, North Dakota, Barney's Department Store
in New York City had a show last Christmas and a lot
of commercial galleries in Europe bought works from us
to then re-sell to their clients.
So we had galleries in Greece and a couple of them in Germany.
Galleries like San Francisco Moma and Jundt
and the Ludwig Museum in Cologne bought extensive collections
of Corita's work to add to their permanent collections.
And Barbara referenced this film Primary Colors
that will be shown here.
In the late 80s and early 90s Corita's friends Jeffery Haven
and Eva Marie Saint made a documentary about her life.
They met her when she would give these gallery walks
through [Inaudible] and the openings
of the galleries once a month and they were very enamored
of her and her teaching style and the way she saw things
so they made this documentary for PBS, sort of championing her
in that era and in the thousands we have a new champion
who is Aaron Rhodes.
Aaron is sort of on the forefront
of this underground arts movement.
He used to run the Alleged Gallery in New York.
His film Beautiful Losers has gone critical acclaim
and he is a graffiti artist,
skateboard artist, surfing culture.
A lot of them are school artists but many of them are not school
and they are just crazy about Corita.
So Aaron has brought her work to galleries in Sydney, Australia
and in Berlin and he does he does the giant installations.
And when we were celebrating what would have been Corita's
90th birthday Aaron created a new documentary on,
Becoming a Microscope, 90 statements on Sister Corita
and he these huge panels and interviewed people
and then added a lot of really interesting graphics and sort
of animation and this was his exhibition
at Cal State Northridge
that Barbara showed you other pictures
of that was just a giant exhibition that got a lot
of people excited and a lot of young people excited.
He did even did a workshop installation sort of based
on photographs that he had seen of her workshop and we try
to do events at the Corita Art Center.
Not only are we interested in promoting her art
but we're really interested in promoting her teaching.
It was really, and I mean it still is,
a cutting edge experiential methodology
that Jan has captured in her book so beautifully
and this was a day of celebrating
where we had art making, silk screen printing, processing,
music, and again it was sort of reminiscent
of the Mary's Day celebrations from the mid 60s.
so at the Corita Arts Center we've got this collection,
this archival collection that we like to share with scholars.
Julie Alt did much of her research
at the Corita Arts Center.
There's a playwright Irene O' Garden who's written a play
about Corita, and she did a lot of her research with us as well.
And we have a lot of people who knew Corita so many
of the people I work with knew Corita as colleagues, students,
contemporaries, the President of the College when she was there,
so we have a wealth of information
so we encourage people to use us to create new works.
We also facilitate exhibitions and we try
to promote Corita's teaching and I've chosen this paragraph
because it's one that Corita made after the assassination
of Robert Kennedy and the idea was that Rose Kennedy
after her two sons assassinations created these
amazing rituals and Corita she created beautiful rituals
in honor of the memories of her sons
and to celebrate their lives.
And drawing from scripture, Corita discusses the need
for new wine skins, "We can't put new wine
into old wine skins.
We have to be constantly reinventing traditional familiar
things to keep them relevant and to keep them fresh
and to keep them alive and meaningful."
And that's really what we're trying to do
at the Corita Arts Center.
This is a reading of Little Heart,
which takes Corita's heart and made it into a play
and you can see that the backdrop.
This is a photograph of Corita and also of her artwork
and rather than creating set pieces the artwork creates
the set.
And we at the Corita Art Center we're also encouraging new art
that draws on Corita's art.
The idea of finding the ordinary and seeing it
as extraordinary is something that this artist has
in common with Corita.
So we had a day where we looked at the nexus of image and word
where Corita had huge pictures that were composed of the text.
This is the book of Victoria Webster's
which is a dictionary of images.
So looking at those things back and forth, we're really trying
to promote new art in the same vain as Corita
and to spread her spirit, not just her art,
not just her teaching but the whole spirit
in which she was making art.
Barbara showed an image of Shepherd Ferry and the animator
from Aaron's film Alex Durbin is an animator
who has a really great new exhibition type thing that he
and I are discussing, which is short of following the model
of Shepherd Ferry where people were taking his designs
and plastering them all over the place, but we're going to do it
with Corita's work and with her we can create a life
without war poster.
So Aaron Rhodes, Alex Durbin, Julie Alt, Irene O' Garden,
these are people who are creating new works
from Corita's work and that's one of the--
it's really promoting her spirit, which is sort
of at the heart of what we're trying to do.
And so I wanted to in closing just thank you
for letting me share a little bit about what we're doing
at the Corita Art's Center.
This exhibition is so exciting not only because of the objects
that it contains, her serigraphs, her passionate hope
for peace, but mainly because you are all now our newest
ambassadors in continuing to spread the spirit
of Corita's art and teaching.
And as a little token
of our appreciation we have some bumper stickers,
my card if you're interest in calling or visiting
or buying some art and brochures about the Corita Arts Center,
so thank you all so much for being here and thank you
for inviting me and thank you for having this exhibition.
[Applause and sound effects]