A Life in Color: A Comic About Corita Kent

An Overview

This comic is part of a series Drawn to Art: Ten Tales of Inspiring Women Artists that illuminates the stories of ten women artists in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Inspired by graphic novels, these short takes on artists’ lives were each drawn by a woman student-illustrator from the Ringling College of Art and Design.

Corita Kent joined a religious order after high school and became fascinated with screen printing. She would go on to be described as “the pop art nun who combined the sensibility of Andy Warhol with social justice,” and helped to bring a little more color to the world. 

A young girl wearing a dress with a ruffled collar and long sleeves with ruffled cuffs sits at a table, painting with watercolors. She is the artist Corita Kent. She wears her hair in a short brown bob with bangs, a green bow tied at the top of her head. Her face is splattered with paint. Her expression is one of intense concentration with her tongue sticking out one side of her mouth. Behind her, across the top of the page, a wash of pale pink, as if a layer of watercolor paint brushed across the paper. Text reads, “Frances Elizabeth Kent was born in 1918 in Iowa into a poor family. Even as a young girl, she was drawn to art. When she was five, her family moved to California.” Mary Elizabeth, wearing a green dress, patent-leather shoes, and white ankle socks, runs across the center of the page. She is clutching three paintbrushes in her left hand, and her face is gleeful. She’s trailing behind a teenaged Mary Elizabeth, who strides ahead, longer brown hair streaming behind her. She is wearing a white graduation cap and gown and black brogues with white ankle socks, her left hand holding the cap on her head, her right clutching a scroll of paper, a high school diploma. Text reads: “After graduating from the Los Angeles Catholic Girls’ High School, she entered the religious order, The Immaculate Heart of Mary. There, she took the name of... Sister Mary Corita.” The right side of the page is washed in a strip of light blue, framing a kneeling Mary Elizabeth, her curled brown hair waving, still wearing her cap and gown and kneeling in front of a tall white altar and gold cross. The bottom of the page is washed in multicolored swaths of rainbow colors, framing the profile of Sister Mary Corita wearing the black and white head covering of a Catholic sister. She looks to the right, in profile, a soft smile on her face, in front of her is written in large loopy text, her chosen name: Sister Mary Corita.