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Power Up – Sister Corita

Print Gallery, Dundee Contemporary Arts
17 September-4 November 2008
Anti-war art is largely a samizdat operation, in which the means of production are seized via cheaply made DIY posters and pamphlets. In the 1960s especially, pop art was imbued with a political context often left out of more hedonistically inclined hagiographies. So it was with Sister Corita Kent, a Los Angeles based Roman Catholic nun, whose text-led silk-screen works became iconic images of anti-Vietnam war activity. The small exhibition of her work that moves into Dundee Contemporary Arts Print Gallery, then, is a perfect companion piece to the ‘Altered States Of Paint’ show which has just closed in the main gallery.

“What she was doing was a precursor to punk and street art,” according to Annis Fitzhugh, Print Studio director at the DCA. “The way she was using photography with her own texts, and the way she used screen-printing technology was pretty mind-blowing. She was a contemporary of Andy Warhol, and some people say she was more adventurous, but where he was a self-publicist, she was a woman with political aims, whose primary interest was in education. Her work wasn’t just about aesthetics.”

Which may explain why Sister Corita left the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1968, relocating to Boston until her death in 1986.

“There’s a whole movement of temporary art that she influenced,” says Fitzhugh. The show’s called ‘Power Up,’ and in that way her work was all about spreading the message.”

The List, September 2008

ends

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