Sister Corita Kent’s Art Department Rules

02/26/13

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Last year I became smitten with something I read on Brain Pickings: a list of Art Department Rules by artist & teacher Sister Corita Kent and composer & writer John Cage. While I was laid up after foot surgery last year (with hours of time on my hands to kill!) I decided (with Maria Popova’s encouragement) to hand letter the rules in my own style. What you see above is the result.

Sister Corita Kent was an artist and an educator who worked in both Los Angeles and Boston. She worked almost exclusively with silkscreen and her distinctive style helped to bring screen printing into the world of fine art.

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{one of Sister Corita’s gorgeous posters}

Sister Corita was known as a fierce and outspoken activitst for peace, love and social justice, and her iconic artwork reflects that passion. Kent designed the beautiful, well known 1985 annual “love” stamp. She was a forward-thinking artist, and was friends with not only John Cage, but Charles and Ray Eames, Saul Bass, Buckminster Fuller and Alfred Hitchcock.

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{Kent’s “Love” stamp and Kent and other teachers in her print making workshop.}

What I love most about Sister Corita’s and John Cage’s Art Department Rules is their encouragement to trust and experiment alongside discipline. As artists, we know we must be disciplined, but often we tell ourselves that we must work hard toward the end of perfection or mastery only. It is so refreshing to remind ourselves that disciplined experimentation is what is important.

“Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.” -Sister Corita Kent

**For those of you who’d like a print of my hand lettered version of the rules, I’m unable reproduce or sell them. We contacted the Corita Art Center last year about selling prints and donating proceeds to the Art Center, and we were unable to get permission.

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