Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Kathryn A. Wat was recently interviewed by PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. Wat described R(ad)ical Love: Sister Mary Corita, NMWA’s current exhibition of Corita’s 1960s, advertising-image-based art, on view March 9–July 15, 2012.
As Wat explains, work by Sister Mary Corita (later Corita Kent, 1918–1986) appeals to today’s viewers because of our constant exposure to media and advertising—we are constantly faced with advertising imagery and aspirational slogans created by companies selling products. Corita used 60s-era advertising words and images to communicate “her intense emotional response to the issues of her time.”
She often juxtaposed imagery from advertisements with texts that spoke to deeper spiritual fulfillment, addressing the cultural turmoil around her. “In the 60s, here in America, you are dealing with the Vietnam War. This is certainly on everyone’s mind, in addition to the Civil Rights movement, which was very close to her heart. She is in the middle of this maelstrom and seeks to make sense of it from her perspective as a nun.”
“I think that the tenor of the 1960s involved a push/pull with religion…. There are works in this exhibition that feature texts from the bible. There are several works that incorporate proverbs. She quotes from many Christian authors. So, the Christian content is in the exhibition. But the way that she turns and twists it by juxtaposing it with secular content and certainly with secular imagery that she has drawn from popular culture is truly unique.”
To watch the video and hear Wat discuss more of Corita’s work—“super-cool art that’s very hip, but that is filled with a sincere spirit”—click here: http://video.pbs.org/video/2210001517/.