The Flying Nun

We have a drawer in the flat files that holds our favorite posters from other designers. I was looking through it today, just admiring the wonderful work. I found a piece I’ve had for 20 years by Sister Corita Kent. “Ooh,” I thought, “How can I steal this?” I can’t. I’m quite sure there is someone out there who would be quick to say, “Sir, I knew Sister Corita, and you, sir, are no Sister Corita.” And they’d be right. But I can aspire to the spontaneity and fresh approach. Sister Corita, was a Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, she ran the Art Department at Immaculate Heart College until 1968 when she left the Order and moved to Boston. Corita’s posters communicate her spirituality and commitment to social justice and peace. When she created much of the work, the content was considered subversive.

This political messaging does not sink under the weight of its own importance. Everything betrays her hands. Like a Jackson Pollack, so many of these posters are a documentation of her process. Nothing is refined past its death, and then more. The colors are vibrant and unapologetic. They are about delight. Her work was a huge inspiration when I was a student. How did I forget this? What other important things have I forgotten? It’s best to not dig too deep, like they say, “if you go looking for trouble, you’ll find it.”

These are Sister Corita’s rules at the Immaculate Heart Art Department:

1. Find a place you trust and then try trusting it for a while.

2. General duties of a student: pull everything out of your teacher, pull everything out of your fellow students.

3. General duties of a teacher: pull everything out of your students.

4. Consider everything an experiment.

5. Be self-disciplined. This means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

6. Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and no fail. There is only make.

7. The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all the time who eventually catch on to things.

8. Don’t try to create and analyse at the same time. They’re different processes.

9. Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

10. “We’re breaking all of the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” - John Cage.