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Collection > Corita Kent >

american sampler


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  • Medium

    Serigraph on paper

  • Dimensions

    Paper: 23 x 12 1/8 in. (58.42 x 30.8 cm)
    Frame (light wood): 25 1/8 × 14 1/4 × 1 1/4 in. (63.82 × 36.2 × 3.18 cm)

  • Credit

    The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
    Purchase with funds provided by the Drawings Committee

  • Accession number


  • Object label

    A sampler is a work of embroidery that often incorporates a homespun motto. In american sampler, Corita Kent spells out the terms of a truthful, critical late 1960s national motto, including “assassination,” “violence,” and “Vietnam.” She used red, white, and blue in blipping, hopping rhythms to highlight embedded words, such as “sin,” “nation,” and “I am.” Kent, who was a Sister of the Order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Angeles for more than thirty years, took her visual communication strategies—bold colors, punchy designs, and succinct phrases—from commercial advertising. Yet the goods she purveyed were ecumenical, populist messages of peace, love, faith, political action, and social justice. Her serigraph (silkscreen print) treats language as a material that can be disassembled and recontextualized. The words imply condemnation as well as ambivalence (“why/why not”), hope (“I can”), and empathy (“I’m Viet”).