a sign of hope: The Art and Teaching of Corita Kent

In 1966, Eloise Pickard Smith curated an exhibition at the UCSC Field House: “Serigraphs by Sister Corita Kent”. 

Speaking to the Santa Cruz Sentinel at the time, she stated, “It is our hope in Cowell College to make the visual arts an essential part of a student’s total education.” Close to sixty years later, the Eloise Pickard Smith gallery continues the mission of its namesake and the work of Corita Kent is returning to campus to spark fresh conversations about the role of art in education, radical faith and social justice.

A Sign of Hope: The Art and Teaching of Corita Kent explores the art and teaching of Corita Kent. Corita (b.1918-d.1986) was a Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Angeles. The exhibition emerges from the connections between the life and work of Corita and “The pursuit of truth in the company of friends,” that defines the ethos of Cowell College. 

Exhibition curators Sheilah Lynch and Ziggy Rendler Bregman were directly influenced by Corita during their time at Immaculate Heart High School. Corita was Chair of the College Art Department and her classrooms were in the basement of the High School where they observed her radical teaching and were inspired by her joy. 

Corita shook up the traditional Catholic institution with her serigraphs drawing attention to social justice issues including hunger, racism and war through her vibrant pop-art iconography and innovative teaching. Lynch and Rendler-Bregman went on to study at UCSC and spent portions of their careers at Cowell, where they carried lessons from their time at Immaculate Heart with them to their work.

A notoriously inspiring teacher, Corita created rules for art making such as “Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes,” and “We are breaking all the rules, even our own rules.” She encouraged students to look at the familiar with fresh eyes. She was so committed to seeing the world in new ways, she even told her students not to blink when watching films. 

In recent years, her contributions to pop-art have been recognized by major museums and institutions. Corita produced nearly 800 serigraphs in her lifetime. This exhibition celebrates her significance as an artist while also emphasizing her legacy as an educator. 

Opening reception: April 7, 2024; 3–5pm (Registration not required)

Alumni Reception: April 12, 2024; 3–5pm (Register here)


Join us for Art Fridays every Friday from 12 to 5pm!

Friday, May 24 at 12:00pm to 5:00pm

More dates through June 1, 2024

Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery
11 Cowell Service Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95064

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Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Students, Prospective Students, General Public, Graduate Students


Arts & Culture





Cowell College


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