Dear Friends & Family,
I hope you’re thriving and enjoying your summer. By all appearances, we’re experiencing a greater degree of normalcy. Perhaps, it’s better to say we’re now in a “new normal” phase. We’re moving forward, getting back on track, and living our lives. Yet, fear and uncertainty ride the air. Covid, political unrest, and war remain with us. My feeling is we can’t ignore what’s going on in the world while we must move on with adjustments in attitude and action. Everything we say and do makes a difference. What we think and how we act can either harm or heal – and affects everything.
Presently, I’m engaged in what I call Mara’s Purge & Profit Project. I’ve mentioned before the many treasures I’ve collected throughout my life as well as what I’ve inherited: books, jewelry, art, etc. I’m freeing myself of items that are no longer useful or necessary, keeping only those which support my life as it is now. “Less is more” is my mantra. I’m prepping the collections for sale. My intent is to have the valuable items go to those who will appreciate them as much as I have.
At times, it’s a process that’s overwhelming and I want to give up. But then I remind myself to put it all in spiritual perspective. I’m linking this view to my memoir: as I divest of possessions, I’m peeling away layers of my life’s adventures, putting fingers to keyboard. It’s a catharsis and revelation all in one! Often painful, the ultimate goal is freedom. I’m excited, looking forward to being unburdened by excess.
One of the collections I’m ready to part with is the Corita art and ephemera I inherited from my late mother, Iva May Carrico. Iva, an artist in her own right, studied with Corita, when she was Sister Mary Corita, a Catholic nun, who headed the art department at Immaculate Heart College in Hollywood, California. In its heyday, the sixties, the college was known for its art department and folk art museum. Corita’s primary medium was silk screen prints, also called serigraphy. Her art reflected her love of God, poetry and activism. She was influenced by Andy Warhol and is sometimes referred to as the Pop Art nun. During this period, Corita’s work became increasingly political, addressing the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War.
My mother became one of Corita’s apprentices and ultimately her personal assistant for a period of time. Iva would often bring me, along with my sister Linda, to Immaculate Heart events. I have fond memories of the college’s annual Mary’s Day procession. Corita’s influence promoted it as a community celebration; all were welcomed. It was a delight to see the sisters adorn their habits with floral wreaths and paint peace signs on their foreheads. Linda and I thought of them as those “hippie nuns.” The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart Order were progressive and encouraged creativity.
Corita left the order in 1968, moved to Boston, and continued making art as Corita Kent, Kent being her family surname. In 1971 she was commissioned by the Boston Gas Company to paint the Rainbow Swash on one of its tanks, at the time the largest copyrighted artwork in the world. Corita also created the Love stamp for the US Postal Service; it debuted in 1985. Her work continues to be part of permanent collections in museums throughout the United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Corita passed in 1986, at age 67, after battling cancer for over a decade.
Immaculate Heart College closed in 1980 and the Immaculate Heart Sisters became lay nuns, living in a secular community. Immaculate Heart High School, remains however, on the same property. The Corita Art Center is located here, a gallery and archive, dedicated to the legacy and art of Corita Kent.
The theologian Harvey Cox noted this about Corita, “Like a priest, a shaman, a magician, she could pass her hands over the commonest of the everyday, the superficial, the oh-so-ordinary, and make it a vehicle of the luminous, the only, and the hope-filled.”