Corita Kent


1918, Fort Dodge, Iowa
1986, Boston, Massachusetts

Audio Stories

How Kent gave ads a higher calling

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[SFX: Music]

NARRATOR: Sister Corita Kent understood the power of advertising. In the 1960s, Madison Avenue was pumping out glossy magazine ads. Pop artists were using them for inspiration. And into this mix stepped Kent— a nun with a concern for social justice.

Kent transformed images from a Wonder Bread wrapper into a meditation on poverty. An oil company slogan into a call to action. She realized that if you looked at those images from a slightly different angle, you could inspire deeper thinking.

CORITA KENT: For the most part, I thought of them as meaning something else. Like ‘put a tiger in your tank’ I really think of as saying that the spirit, whatever the spirit means to us, is inside of us, the God who is in us, or who is us, whatever, however you want to say it.

NARRATOR: Kent made thousands of prints during her lifetime. Many of them feature the words of leaders she admired, like Martin Luther King. Or fragments of poetry. And she didn’t consider them precious. Her banners and posters appeared at civil rights rallies and anti-war demonstrations all through the 1960s and ’70s.

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