A new campaign seeks to save Corita Kent’s Los Angeles studio from demolition.
Corita Kent’s studio in the 1960s in Los Angeles. Courtesy the Corita Art Center.
A campaign has been launched to keep the former studio of the late artist Corita Kent from being demolished, and to preserve it as a historic landmark. The property, located on Franklin Avenue in Los Angeles, is currently home to a dry cleaner and is slated to be demolished to free up space for a parking lot. The building served as Kent’s studio from 1960 to 1968, a period during which she created some of her most well-known works. Though the campaign is still in the preliminary stages, organizers plan to take part in a zoning board meeting in the coming weeks.
Born Francis Elizabeth Kent in Fort Dodge, Iowa, in 1918, Kent spent the majority of her life in L.A., where she joined the a Roman Catholic congregation, Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, when she was 18 years old. During the Civil Rights Movement and the first-wave feminist movement, Kent and her sisters began working with silk-screening as an instrument to make materials for political demonstrations.
Corita Kent with her work. Courtesy the Corita Art Center.
Nellie Scott, director of the Corita Art Center, said in a statement quoted by The Art Newspaper:
Her work always came from themes of love, justice, and hope. There’s been a resurgence of interest in her work now when people are increasingly looking to past inspirational leaders during tough times. [...] When you have a notable artist who shared so much of themselves with the world, there’s a ripple effect to that energy. Love, hope, justice—what a beautiful thing to be a part of.
While studying at the Immaculate Heart College, Kent also took classes at the Otis College of Art and Design and the Chouinard Art Institute. In 1951, she earned her bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Southern California. In 1968, she left the church to pursue a career as a full-time artist and arts educator; she relocated to Boston that year, and died there in 1986. The Corita Art Center was founded as a non-profit organization when the Immaculate Heart of Mary received stewardship of Kent’s estate and archive, including more than 30,000 pieces.
Scott told The Art Newspaper that the campaign has received “incredible support from the community.”