Punk-Nun … whaaaat?

Punk-Nun … whaaaat?

My friend refers to her as the punk rock nun. Whoa, wait. Punk, and nun? Can you say oxymoron.

It was just last week that I picked up the No. 6 ANP Quarterly in SF, a California based arts and culture magazine self described as a “quarterly magazine about things we feel are valuable and would make you excited….When you are done with it please give it to a friend or cut it up and make mixtape covers with the photos, etc.” It was my first time, an ANP virgin. As I flipped through interesting story after interesting story, colorful image after colorful image, I realized immediately that this was one of those great discoveries. I carefully and slowly turned each page, so as not to mis anything the gem I held at hand was offering. My friend lead me to his favorite article.
“Here … the punk rock nun.”

Ladies and gentlemen, punkers, nuners, printers, and history buffs, let me introduce you to Sister Corita Kent.

She was born in Iowa in 1918, and later moved to LA where she went on to receive a master’s degree in art history in the 1950’s (unheard of for a nun at this time). Corita studied printmaking, and taught art at the Immaculate Heart College. She worked hard and encouraged students to support social and political causes that were important to them. Her own silk-screened works often explored inequality, poverty, and war. She was an activist, a community organizer, an artist who believed that “to create art means to relate.” As an advocate for peace during the Vietnam War, the Sister attracted a high level of both acceptance and rejection from churches, showrooms, and the general public. Breaking the rules was actually one of her classroom rules.

Over the years Corita Kent built a tremendous following by people who felt inspired by her art, and by her work at Immaculate Heart. She was a teacher of controversial subject matter, a Sister of colorful images and messages, a rebel rouser in her own unique way. John Cage and Alfred Hitchcock were among several well known artists who came to visit Corita Kent at the art department of Immaculate Heart.

Punk, and nun, punk nun … why not?

If we look at the original nature of punk ideologies such as individuality, free thought, direct action, rebellion, and the desire to create an improved world through social change, if we consider the roots of these ethics and then compare them with those of Sister Corita Kent, a punk nun does indeed come to life.

Check out Aaron Rose’s 12 page article on Sister Corita Kent at Holland Headquarters, 30 Cheney St. Reno, NV