SPOTLIGHT: October, 2023

there is only one man in the world

Corita Kent, American, 1918-1986
Serigraphs, 22 1/8 x 16″ and 22 1/8 x 13 1/4″

Graphic artist and feminist Corita Kent was an artist, educator, and advocate for social justice. She joined the religious order Immaculate Heart of Mary and changed her name from Frances Elizabeth Kent. After earning a graduate degree from the University of Southern California, she became an instructor and then head of the art department for the Immaculate Heart College.

Kent focused on printmaking, especially serigraphs or screen prints, to assure that her art work would remain affordable. Much of her imagery was designed to teach acceptance and hope, and represented the turbulent time of the 1960s and 70s. She often was inspired by and appropriated images from advertisements to convey her message.

Kent created these two prints, inspired by the prologue Carl Sandburg wrote for a 1955 photography exhibit and book organized by Edward Steichen, director of the photography department for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. The exhibit traveled for eight years, and featured photographs that celebrated the human experience. Sandburg wrote:

There is only one man in the world and his name is All Men.
There is only one woman in the world and her name is All Women.
There is only one child in the world and the child’s name is All Children. 

Kent is best known for the commission she completed for Boston Gas in 1971, which transformed an industrial tank along route I-93 in Dorchester, Massachusetts, into an icon of Pop Art entitled, Rainbow Swash. One of the two tanks was removed and the other replaced and repainted in the 1990s by its new owner, National Grid.

Since the Art Complex Museum opened in 1971, its permanent collection has steadily grown through acquisitions in the form of gifts, bequests, and purchases. This pair of prints by Corita Kent, acquired by the museum in early 2023, are examples of the most recent additions to the permanent collection. These prints and dozens of other works collected since the museum’s founding are featured in the exhibition 50/50: Fifty Years of Collecting Art, on view through January 14, 2024.

there is only one man in the world, 1967