“watermelon” by Sister Corita

We watched “Power Up: The Work of Sister Corita” this morning. The talk was given by graphic designer Barbara Glauber (see Heavy Meta and Yale School of Art) at The Cooper Union in November 2018.

It is a superb talk, and I’m beyond pleased that we were able to find and purchase a secondhand copy of the out-of-print book Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent online.

We have no art. We do everything as well as we can.

“daisy” by Sister Corita

Sister Corita was a nun, artist, and educator that worked in LA in the 50s-60s and in Boston later in life. See the ten Immaculate Heart College Art Department Rules.

Corita Kent used appropriation without irony or cynicism. She identified, combined, and repurposed the hopeful in the everyday. She was a prolific giver that shared seemingly without expectation of return. She used optimism as activism.

Ignore the persuaders

“r rosey runners” by Sister Corita

It is interesting that her appropriation of advertising copy seemed to wane later in life. Maybe advertising began to feel less optimistic to her, instead more sinister and insidious.

I wonder at how difficult it must have been to leave the order. Not just because it meant a return to the secular after a lifetime of regulation and restrictions, but also because it meant that she had to leave the resources of the art school, the playground she had so carefully cultivated. Her later work is still incredible, but it seems more weary and a little more laboured. “Bogged down” is one way of describing it. Her prints from the 70s almost veer in to motivational poster territory.

Salute your source

How to create or maintain the playground required for work with her sort of radical optimism? A major element is the physical space, both small (the room / studio) and large (the community / city). It is also the mental space.

Both of these spaces come at a premium now, though. I struggle to get enough of either.

It feels like there may be some sort of third space offered by working with the web, but I haven’t figured this out yet. When I try to work digitally, I get bogged down. How to experiment with the web in a way that is as gestural and intuitive as a line drawing?


  1. watermelon, serigraph, Sister Corita Kent (1965) 
  2. daisy, serigraph, Sister Corita Kent (1966) 
  3. r rosey runners, serigraph, Sister Corita Kent (1968) 

The images here are from the Corita Art Center website. See their online Collection for high-quality images and more details about her work, including transcriptions of the text within her prints.

They are currently seeking donations to acquire these pieces. Donate to the Corita Art Center here.

Close up of weathered boards and tarring in Dungeness, UK

Just learned about Keith Collins and his relationship with Derek Jarman via Collins’s obituary in the Guardian. What an interesting life. This “how we met” interview with the two of them (The Independent, 1993) is worth reading, and there are some lovely photos around.

SB and I went to Rye with some friends in May 2017 and took a bus out to Dungeness. We just wanted to experience that strange landscape but came across Prospect Cottage as well. It’s all on it’s own, pretty far from much. No plaque or barriers or anything.

It’s a wonder that Collins maintained it for all those years after Jarman’s death. Who is maintaining it now?

I’ve always been so impressed by Watith Tanjai’s work. He and his partner are continuing to do great stuff in Nakhonrajchasima, Thailand with 382 space. The Tumblr content is a little out of date, but his FB feed says they’re busy as ever. Looks like they’re dedicating a portion of the space to a nursery, including succulents I’ve never seen before.

Great stuff, hope to visit some day.

Screenshot of Tove Jansson swimming in Finland from the BBC documentary Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson

Screenshot of Tove Jansson swimming from the BBC documentary “Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson”, around 1:20 mark. View the trailer here.

Until I watched the BBC documentary “Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson”, I had never really known about the artist and author Tove Jansson nor the context for her work. I’m so glad to have come across the film. She was an impressive and talented woman that lived through some devastating times. The documentary is enhanced by quite a bit of original footage, images, and quotes from her journals and other writings. It also includes interviews of her friends and family. My only criticism would be that the tilt-shift effect on some of the shots of contemporary Helsinki and the Finnish countryside felt a little heavy-handed.

The scene above was likely filmed by Tove Jansson’s partner and great love Tuulikki Pietilä, a Finnish graphic artist. Her nickname was Tooti. For nearly 30 summers, Tove and Tooti lived and worked in a cottage that they built together on a little remote island called Klovharu. It sounds like they were quite the independent adventurers, and their time on the island seemed idyllic. This moment was rather heart-wrenching.

Last summer something unforgivable happened: I started to fear the sea. The giant waves no longer signified adventure but fear. Fear and worry, for the boat and all the other boats that were sailing around in bad weather. We knew it was time to give the cottage away.

Once they had left, they never wanted to come back. They didn’t even want to talk about it. It was the end, and that was it.

A side note: Sophia Jansson’s comment reminded me of a moment in a recent episode of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me when Peter Sagal asked Norman Lear if he had any tips “for those of us who would like to arrive at 93 as spry and as successful and happy as you are”.

What occurred to me first is two simple words, maybe as simple as any two words in the English language – over and next. We don’t pay enough attention to them. When something is over, it is over, and we are on to next.

I’m looking forward to discovering Tove Jansson’s work. I’ll probably start with the original two Moomins books, then move to The Summer Book and A Winter Book.