Corita Kent

American, (1918–1986)
“american sampler” from the series Heroes and Sheroes, 1969
Museum purchase with funds from the Binghamton Fund


Corita Kent borrowed her aesthetics—bold colors, punchy designs, and pithy phrases—from commercial advertising. Yet the goods she purveyed were ecumenical and populist messages of peace, love, faith, political action, and social justice. american sampler, part of Heroes and Sheroes, a series of twenty-nine prints marked a turning point in Kent’s work. She began the series in the same year that she took a sabbatical from teaching and requested a dispensation from her vows as a member of the religious order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These works reflect Kent’s advocacy, and her acute awareness of how contemporaneous events are framed and disseminated through the media. The series addresses elements that defined the decade: the Civil Rights Movement, labor and anti-war movements, nuclear disarmament, and political assassinations. 

american sampler riffs on the tradition of the sampler, a work of embroidery often associated with women and used to demonstrate their facility with a variety of needlework techniques. Here, Kent’s sampler elucidates her facility with cultural critique: repeating the words AMERICAN, ASSASSINATION, VIOLENCE, and VIETNAM in stacked lines that resemble the stripes of the flag, and using shifts in color to highlight different combinations of words such as SIN, I, and NATION. The concatenation of words implies condemnation, as well as ambivalence (WHY/WHY NOT), hope (I CAN), and empathy (I’M VIET).

This print is currently on view in the Main Gallery. During Homecoming Weekend, Friday, October 7 and Saturday, October 7, 12-4 pm, the Museum will host a series of free, hands-on activities for creators of all ages that embody Kent's commitment to innovative teaching. 


Search the database

You will soon be able to search the database containing images and records of the entire permanent collection. Please return to this webpage!



Last Updated: 9/29/22