Yesterday I visited the Dundee Contemporary Arts centre to see an exhibition of works by Sister Corita Kent, one of the more unusual pop artists of the 60s. Corita was a nun and art educator who ran the art department at the Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles for over 20 years. She inspired thousands of people with her creativity and commitment to social justice, and encouraged nuns and students alike to get involved with printmaking and graphic design, making banners for processions and installations whilst spreading messages of peace and love. I had been looking forward to seeing this exhibition, as I have a passion for printmaking, and also enjoy the vibrancy of Pop Art, as well as an appreciation for good typography. Luckily, on entering the gallery, I bumped into an ex-student of mine from a few years ago (who shall remain nameless!) who was working as a gallery assistant at the exhibition. After having a pleasant chat with him, I asked if I could take a few photos for my blog and he said it shouldn’t be a problem, which was great news for me, as I think it is really useful to document as much as possible which I can refer to at a later date. He advised me where to start, and I headed towards a wall built from cardboard boxes to view a short film entitled “We have no art”.
You may have been wondering about the title of the exhibition.”There will be new rules next week”…The film detailed The Immaculate Heart College Art Department Rules as written by Sister Corita. The rules are as follows:
Next I wandered around to take a good look at her prints, which are serigraphs (screen prints). Having admired Sister Corita’s work for while, I felt privileged to be able to see it for real, as opposed to viewing it on the web. The colours seemed so much more vibrant in real life, and it was great to be able to look at the pieces both simultaneously at a distance, and to view them up close individually. The venue was perfect to show such works, and when I visited there were only a couple of other viewers present, which allowed me to absorb and contemplate the pieces without any distractions.
Her carefully chosen words are simple, to the point, yet inspiring, and often referencing the role models of her era. Her use of font and colour in her works are often inspired by packaging and advertising of the era, using the same tactics to promote peace and love and protest against injustice and war.
Other artists; Peter Davies, Ruth Ewan, Emily Floyd, Scott Myles and Ciara Phillips, who have been inspired by her work, were also featured in the exhibition. I particularly liked the witty and humorous paintings of Peter Davies, they made me wish I’d thought of the idea first! I felt a strong urge to go away and paint something similar, putting my own slant on the pieces of course.
“The Redundancy of Ideology”, 2008 (Acrylic on canvas)
A sculptural exhibit by Melbourne-based artist Emily Floyd complemented the surrounding work beautifully. Although Floyd produces work in both print and sculpture, I think the piece helped to balance what was an otherwise very 2-dimensional exhibition, in fact, I think that the space could have probably accommodated another of her sculptures. Like most of her other sculptures, she use simple geometric forms with bold use of colour, giving the impression that it could easily be found within a child’s toy box.
Emily Floyd “Nomadic Shepherds”
I came away from the exhibition (reluctantly!) with thoughts turning to my own work. Was there anything that I saw here which I could use within the context of my subject matter, which is predominantly based on the natural world? Perhaps I could find some slogans used by Greenpeace or some text relating to ecology or nature, and try to make a piece of Pop Art, either a print similar to Corita’s or a painting in the style of Peter Davies? Or perhaps I could even create some fictitious packaging for seeds, plants or organisms? After all “Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and no fail. There is only make.” (Rule 6)