Friday, April 06, 2007

A New Book about Corita Kent

I had a wonderful art teacher who had a wonderful art teacher. I never met Corita Kent, though, through my friendship with dian marino, one of Corita's students, i feel as though i know her. So, when i found out a few weeks ago that a new book about Corita's life and art was published i called the Corita Art Center in California and ordered a copy immediately. What a thrill to find it stuffed in my mailbox this week.

The book includes an essay by Julie Ault and a fine selection of Corita's many serigraphs (silkscreens) large enough to appreciate (24.5 cm 28.5 cm). Corita's work is an iconic part of the 60s with her bright, hopeful, word-filled posters. Combining word and image is something i learned from dian. And seeing where dian obviously got some of her inspiration gives me a comforting feeling of having deep roots in creative traditions of which i will never know the full extent. Something that i loved about making art with dian was the playful spirit with which dian would create. I took little urging to embrace this disposition. When i met dian i was, in part, looking for someone who could simply give me permission to play, break rules, be wild. And i owe a debt to dian, and Corita, for showing me the way to connect with that wild fire of creativity that i think is available to all of us.

Come Alive! also includes a very moving essay by poet and peace activist Daniel Berrigan.

I urge you to check out Corita's work. Especially if you're interested in community art. One of my favourite art books of all time is Learning By Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit by Jan Steward and Corita Kent (sadly, out of print). If you can find a copy it's something you should grab and hang on to. Filled with wise words and exercises and techniques for making art, it is a treasure trove. It was in this book that i came across Corita's "rules" for making art.

And, finally, i must recommend dian's book Wild Garden: Art, Education and the Culture of Resistance which also includes some exercises and techniques as well as some wonderful essays that dian wrote about art and popular and environmental education.

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