Sister Mary Corita Studio | Los Angeles Conservancy
Sister Mary Corita in 1965, courtesy of the Corita Art Center.

Sister Mary Corita Studio

On June 2, 2021, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to approve the Sister Corita Studio as a Historic-Cultural Monument. Thank you to everyone who supported the nomination by speaking at public hearings or by writing letters of support!

Learn more about the efforts to save the Sister Mary Corita Studio through KPCC's Take Two program which aired on January 4, 2021. Tune in at the 42-minute mark. 

On December 17, 2020, the Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) unanimously voted in support of the pending Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) nomination for the Sister Mary Corita Studio. City staff were recommending against this pending nomination so we and many others are very pleased with this outcome. Next the HCM will be forwarded to the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee for review.  

5518 Franklin Avenue in Hollywood is significant for its association with the famed artist, educator, and social justice advocate Sister Mary Corita Kent. From 1962-1968, Sister Corita used the building as her studio and classroom where she made some of her most recognizable works, hosted creative leaders, and influenced a generation of young artists. The former studio, which is now a dry cleaner, is the only remaining property in Los Angeles primarily associated with Corita’s artistic production. 

The HCM nomination was submitted for the Sister Mary Corita Studio by the Corita Art Center. Currently, only 3% of the City's HCMs are associated with women's heritage. 

Known as the "Pop Art Nun" Sister Corita was born in Iowa moved to Los Angeles with her family. After obtaining her Bachelor's degree from Immaculate Heart College she joined the faculty in 1947. While teaching, Sister Corita earned her Master's degree in Art History from the University of Southern California (USC) in 1951. Over the course of her career Sister Corita created over 700 screenprints, which were her primary medium of art. Watch Sister Corita at work in the Studio in this excerpt from a 1967 film.   

While working at Immaculate Heart College, Sister Corita used the building as her primary studio space while living at the Immaculate Heart Motherhouse across the street. During this period, the Catholic Church under Vatican II began embracing reforms to modernize the Catholic Mass, introducing vernacular language, and contemporary liturgical music and artwork to make the Church's aesthetic messages more relevant to the twentieth-century.

By using vivid, fluorescent inks, Sister Corita's work embraced the widely recognized symbolism of commercial advertising. Her artwork juxtaposed inspirational and scripture influenced text with images to create broadly appealing, ecumenical messages of hope and optimism. 

Because of the progressive spirit of art produced by Sister Corita and the other Immaculate Heart Motherhood nuns their work came under fire from the Los Angeles Archdiocese in the 1960s. In 1966, Cardinal McIntyre wrote, "We hereby request again that the activities of Sister Corita in religious art be confined to her classroom work." Deeply influenced by the emerging progressive culture, Immaculate Heart Motherhood sisters began incorporating contemporary philosophies, modern psychology, and women's liberation movement into their work. 

By 1968, when Sister Corita left Immaculate Heart, her work had been shown in over 230 exhibitions. During the 1960s, she spoke lectures, interviews, and larger public commissions becoming a well-known public figure.  

Help support the Corita Art Center team and allies pressing for the preservation of Sister Mary Corita's Studio.