The Barbara Lee Family Foundation proudly supported the Corita Kent and Language of Pop exhibit to be displayed at the Harvard Art Museums from September 2015 through January 2016. The exhibit examined the screenprints of Corita Kent, a Roman Catholic nun who in the 1960’s created typical examples of Pop art that embody the vivid palette and focus on everyday subjects as well as the mass-produced quality of ephemeral objects.
Consummately popular, the prints also borrowed from the mass media and portray the political tenor of the times. Although her work has been featured in a number of exhibitions in recent years, it has not been subjected to rigorous scholarly scrutiny, especially within the history of the art of the 60s.
Previous exhibitions and writings on Kent have focused on the exceptionalism of her artistic practice – her identity as a radical nun whose artwork incorporated progressive, Vatican II-inspired Catholic content. Her prints, however, emerged simultaneous to and often in conversation with the Pop art produced by the forerunners of the style in the United States, and exploited similar visual and conceptual strategies.
This exhibition examined Kent’s screenprints made between 1964 and 1969, as well as her designs for Boston Gas’s roadside natural gas tank in 1971. The exhibition and catalogue reflected upon the various motivations, mechanisms, and effects of her exclusion from the curatorial, academic, and critical discourses of the 1960s, and offer an expanded definition of Pop art that accommodates the inventiveness of her practice.