After a campaign was established last summer to save the former studio of artist Corita Kent from demolition, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to designate the building a historic-cultural monument. The news was first reported by Artnet News.
Located in the city’s Hollywood neighborhood, at 5518 Franklin Avenue, the building, which was most recently host to a dry cleaner, was Kent’s studio from 1960 to 1968. During that time period, Kent was still a nun affiliated with the progressive Roman Catholic order Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Kent is best known for her Pop-inflected silkscreens, many of which were produced to support the civil rights movement, women’s liberation, and other activist causes. It was in this L.A. studio that she produced her famed work My People (1965), which responded to the Watts Riots that occurred that year.
The Corita Art Center, which is dedicated to preserving Kent’s estate and legacy, began its campaign last summer to preserve the studio after it learned that its current owner would raze the building to make room for a parking lot. The center also happens to be located across the street from Kent’s former studio.
In a statement posted to Facebook, the Corita Art Center said, “In honor of Corita’s legacy, we are exploring how the future of this building can be shaped in service of Los Angeles’ creative community. There are many conversations to be had, but we know that you all will be right there with us. We are filled with gratitude for every person and organization that has been on this journey with us, sharing in the faith that the ordinary can indeed be extraordinary.”
Kent joined the order in 1936 when she was 18. In the 1940s, she began teaching in the art department at Immaculate Heart College, which was run by her order. Later on, in 1951, she went on to receive her M.F.A. from the University of Southern California. Toward the end of her time there, Kent became interested in screen printing, which became a lifelong artistic pursuit.
Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, Kent became a renowned contemporary artist. She took a sabbatical from the order in 1968 and left California—and her studio—for Massachusetts. She decided not to return to the order and settle permanently in Boston, where she lived until her death in 1979.