Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art

Utah State University - Logan, UT



The Big G Stands for Goodness: Corita Kent's 1960s Pop

April 11 - June 4, 2000


Utah State University is hosting an exhibition of artworks entitled "The Big G Stands For Goodness: Corita Kent's 1960s Pop" through June 4, 2000. The exhibition is curated by Los Angeles-based writer, Michael Duncan and was first presented at the Luckman Fine Arts Gallery at California State University, Los Angeles in January 2000.

"The Big G Stands For Goodness: Corita Kent's 1960s Pop" features 50 works surveying the disarmingly engaging, formally inventive silkscreen prints from the 1960s by Sister Mary Corita (1918-1986). Juxtaposed with these works will be works by 15 contemporary Los Angeles artists who use a similar approach to popular culture and formal experimentation with the visual display of texts; including those by Mike Kelley, Alien Ruppersberg, Karen Carson, Robert Heinecken, Alexis Smith, Michael Gonzalez, Raymond Pettibon, Larry Johnson, Steve Hurd, Lari Pittman, and Ed Ruscha.

As well as pointing to the extraordinary sophistication of Corita's 1960s work, the contemporary portion of the exhibition will serve as a mini-survey of contemporary Los Angeles art that has utilized text in visually inventive ways.

A teacher at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, and a civil rights, feminist and anti-war activist, Corita (she resigned from her religious order in 1968) was one of the most popular American graphic artists of the 1960s and 1970s, making hundreds of prints espousing her humanist causes.

Creating her own liberal Catholic version of Pop in the early 1960s, Sr. Corita mixed swatches of bright, saturated color with fragments of graphics appropriated from commercial supermarket items. With a deadpan literalism and an ear for language rivaling that of her contemporary Angelino, Ed Ruscha, Corita confirms her upbeat theology in well-known advertising phraseology of her time in prints which include passage such as The big G stands for goodness ~General Mills) and Put a tiger in your tank (Esso gasoline). Logos and slogans promoting "Wonder" bread, "Humble" oil, "Sunkist" lemons, "Safeway" supermarkets, and even "Lark" cigarettes become visual and verbal puns endorsing her all-embracing humanitarianism.

Works by the several contemporary Los Angeles artists in the exhibition conjure and auspiciously compare with Corita's prints. Her playful uses of block letters, word fragments, mirrored writing, and warped and morphed texts diversely parallel those of Larry Johnson, Karen Carson, and Lari Pittman.

Passages from texts by Gertrude Stein, Samuel Beckett, Camus, e.e. cummings, John Lennon, and Ugo Betti are often scrawled across Corita's works in a style that prefigures that of Raymond Pettibon. Moreover, Mike Kelley's felt banners from the late 1980s were directly spun off of her work, offering their own twisted celebration of the abject.

"The Big G Stands For Goodness: Corita Kent's 1960s Pop" is curated by Michael Duncan, independent curator and writer. Recent exhibitions curated by Duncan include Love Flight of a Pink Candy Heart: A Compliment to Florine Stettheimer at Holly Solomon Gallery in New York (1995), and Pavel Tchelitchew: Interior Landscapes at the Katonah Museum of Art in New York (1998). Duncan is Corresponding Editor for Art in America magazine, and has also written for the magazines Buzz, L.A. Weekly, Frieze, New Art Examiner, Art issues and Flash Art among others.

"The Big G Stands For Goodness: Corita Kent's 1960s Pop" originated at the Luckman Fine Arts Gallery at California State University, Los Angeles. Subsequent to its presentation at Utah State University, it will travel to the Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and to the Art Gallery at the University of Texas San Antonio. This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Charles Mitchell, President, and Kathy Agajanian, Regional Sales Manager, Frame Store; Peggy Kayser, Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community; Dean Hansell; Kourosh Larizadeh; George Wanlass; Tobey C. Moss; Meryl Pollen.

See images of Corita Kent's artwork at websites for :

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