The popular search engine Google featured the artwork of an Iowa native Thursday on its main page as a “doodle” on what would have been Corita Kent’s 96th birthday. Kent grew up in Fort Dodge and became a nun, eventually moving to California where she gained fame for her painting and silkscreens while she taught art at a Catholic college.
Sasha Carrera is director of the Corita Art Center in Los Angeles where many of Kent’s works are on display. Carrera says Kent had an early interest in art. “She started off in her elementary school days and had a great penchant for lettering,” Carrera says. “She would talk at length about how to her, the letters had the same quality as an image. So, a letter to her was as beautiful and as meaningful as to someone else maybe a picture of a flower might be.”
She was known as Sister Mary Corita Kent and designed the “LOVE” stamp for the U.S. Postal Service in 1985. It was a real thrill, Carrera says, that Google chose to spotlight this woman’s work to billions of people this week. “Her art is what we feel is really the legacy that she leaves,” Carrera says. “Her art is this very spiritual approach to life. She was a teacher and her art continues to teach.” Kent died of cancer in 1986 at the age of 67, but Carrera believes the legacy of her art continues on.
“A lot of her art has messages for living, but in this very bright, powerful, colorful way that draws the eye,” Carrera says. “It’s almost like candy. It attracts you to look at it and you spend a little time reading it and then, the message sinks in. It really encourages people to live up to their true potential and to be as loving to one another as we possibly can be.” Some of Kent’s artwork can also be seen at the Blanden Art Museum in Fort Dodge.
There are plans for a celebration of her art in 2018, on what would have been her 100th birthday. Google says it’s used for more 40-thousand searches per second, or around three-and-a-half billion searches per day.
(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)