Critics’ Picks

View of “Someday is Now,” 2014.


Corita Kent

MOCA Cleveland
11400 Euclid Avenue
May 27–August 31

“Someday is Now” surveys the work of artist, teacher, and nun Corita Kent (1918–1986), emphasizing her both as prolific artist and inventive educator. Kent taught at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles from 1947 until ’68, and her Immaculate Heart College Art Department Rules, 1967, includes pedagogical edicts such as NOTHING IS A MISTAKE. THERE'S NO WIN AND NO FAIL. THERE'S ONLY MAKE. and THE ONLY RULE IS WORK. Beyond the classroom, Kent courted serious international interest during her lifetime, gracing the cover of Newsweek in 1967 and connecting with such figures as John Cage, who, along with Merce Cunningham, much admired and promoted her dictums.

This exhaustive survey brings together documentary ephemera as well as films such as We Have No Art, 1967, which shows Kent leading participatory Happenings. Kent embraced silkscreen serigraphic printing alongside Warhol, Rauschenberg, and others, a noteworthy example being The lord is with thee, 1952, depicts biblical figures in a blocky style of German Expressionism. By the mid-1960s, this content ceded to appropriative remixes of found text and graphic design, such as that they may have life, 1964, which mixes the palette, polka dots, and promises of Wonderbread (“enriched bread”) with a Gandhi quotation. Likewise in song about the greatness, 1964, the text of Psalm 98 is harmonized with the slogan MAKES MEATBAL SING. Part commodity critique, part secular humanist optimism, these cropped citations put pressure on the disembodied voice, using literature, religion, and advertising against each other to challenge their respective premises.