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Corina Kent circa 1965. Photo: Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles.
Corina Kent circa 1965. Photo: Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles.

Campaign Launched to Preserve Corita Kent’s Los Angeles Studio as Historical Landmark

Under the leadership of Nellie Scott, director of the Corita Art Center in Los Angeles, a campaign has been launched to save the former L.A. studio of late artist Corita Kent (1918–1986) from demolition. The space, which currently houses a dry cleaner, is slated to be razed to make room for a parking lot.

Kent, who would become known for her Pop screen prints, which embodied themes of love and social justice and is said to presage in many ways the work of Andy Warhol, occupied the space from 1961 to 1968, during which time she was a nun affiliated with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, having joined the progressive Roman Catholic organization at the age of 18.

The span was important to her development as an artist, and the address, 5518 Franklin Avenue, was where she made many of her landmark works as her renown grew over the course of the decade. She was named Woman of the Year by the Los Angeles Times in 1966, made the cover of Newsweek in 1967, and in 1968 left the church. She continued her work, which expanded to become what is now termed a social practice, thus paving the way for artists from ’80s AIDS activists Gran Fury to the 2015 Turner Prize–winning collective Assemble.

The notoriety that she received in the ’60s certainly adds to the cultural significance in the Los Angeles area,” Scott told Los Angeles Magazine.

Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in the work of the artist, whose widely recognized Love stamp was released by the US Post Office in 1985, the year before she died. Kent was posthumously awarded the American Institute of Graphic Arts Medal in 2016. In 2018, the city of Los Angeles declared Kent’s birthday, November 20, Corita Kent Day.

The Corita Art Center is calling for interested parties to contact representatives from Council District 13 and ask them to hold off on approval of the project until the building has been reviewed by the Office of Historic Resources and the Cultural Heritage Commission.

“Many of the studios of her male peers do have the courtesy of being recognized,” Scott said. Once the studio is demolished, she notes, “we don’t get to go backwards.”