10 Inspiring rules set by Sister Corita Kent

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

I believe that this rule by Sister Corita Kent applies to writing just as it applies to any other creative process. When I try to write creatively, I find that it is good to just let the words flow. Then leave them to rest for a while, before going back with a fresh view to edit them.

I am revisiting the work of Sister Corita Kent, following a recent email from a friend with the subject header ‘inspiration’. It stated that they were starting a “collective, constructive, and hopefully uplifting exchange” and it was a chain-letter-type-thing that asked simply if I could send an encouraging quote or verse to the person detailed in the email. The deal being that in turn someone (probably a friend of a friend), should send some texts to me sometime soon. I quickly settled on sharing the Immaculate Heart College Art Department Rules, which I first spotted in a compelling exhibition at Dundee Contemporary Arts in 2013. It was at this exhibition that I was first introduced to the work of Sister Corita Kent (1918 – 1986), an activist nun who ran the art department at the Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles for over 20 years.

Sister Corita Exhibition 3

In total, the Immaculate Heart Art College Department Rules state:

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later.

In the exhibition, the words of these rules were printed on a number of boxes that were combined to build a room and inside they screened a film. Now almost two years on, this ‘inspiration’ email prompted me to search the for this film ‘We Have No Art’ and I found it lurking in the land of film known as Youtube. I’ve now watched it again a number of times. I’ll probably watch it a few more times by the time this blog post is finished. So I feel pleased that in the quest of inspiring a friend of a friend via email, I’ve also found a little time to explore the work of Sister Corita Kent once more.

I like the sentiments shared in this film, both by Corita and her students. It gave me a chance to get a sense of their methods of thinking and teaching. The film starts with a brilliant and humorous introduction, as Corita discusses why you should never blink when watching a film.

I think maybe one of the most important rules about looking at films that I can think of is that you should never blink. You should really keep your eye straight on the film and never miss anything. Because if you blink or close your eyes or turn around, I always think it is comparable to skipping several pages of a book.

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Fun a Day 2015

I started the year of with the usual sunshine energy that organising & taking part in fun a day tends to have. Fun a Day is a community based art project which I think really strengthens your creative muscles and sets you up well for the year. When I first took part in the project, the encouragement if the first organiser Morgan Cahn gave me a real confidence boost. It made me feel it was ok to make something and call it art. I hadn’t really felt confident in doing that in a long time and it was a brilliant boost. Art is made with an intention. If you are creating something with the intention for it to be art, then it is art. It sounds simple, but I think it takes a lot of confidence in yourself to call something art.

Fun a Day 2014: One Word

I was one of the organisers of the art project Fun-a-Day Dundee in 2014. The Fun a Day project encouraged people in Dundee to add an element of creative fun to the 31 days in January and then packed an exhibition full of all that fun. The diverse collection of art work in the exhibition displayed the need for everyone to make more time for fun and the collective power that a series of small actions can have. Knowing that I would have a busy month, but still keen to create a personal project during the month as part of Fun a Day – I decided to experiment with video. Last year I chose a word a day and cut it into paper. This year I asked other people for a word a day and I recorded it in film. This short film is the result.

Completing the ‘One Word’ project made me question whether one word can effectively describe an element of your day and how difficult it is to pick just one word.

This was a project that sometimes surprised me with its ease and other days frustrated with its struggle. From the offset it was interesting to see how the project puzzled some of my closest friends and yet some of the strangers I asked were very open to it. Mostly they were amused (or bemused by it), they questioned the point of it and how I planned to put the short shots together, but almost everyone agreed to indulge me and offer me a word. Continue reading “Fun a Day 2014: One Word”

Fun A Day Dundee 2014

I have to confess – I have been thinking about FUN quite a lot recently.

The FUN thoughts first appeared when we decided upon our motto for the Dundee Sustainability Jam. They continued to lurk as Seaton Baxter took up the challenge to discuss this motto and whilst he spoke about a number of projects, he highlighted how much FUN actually exists in a number of words if you look for it: FUNgibility, FUNdamental and even FUNeral.

So it seems that if you look hard enough, you can find FUN lurking in some unexpected places.

Subsequently, thoughts of FUN have been drfting around my mind ever since. They are hard to shake, and as I have since volunteered to help organise this years Fun A Day in Dundee, they may be set to stay for the time being.

For the uninitiated, I have to warn that the Fun A Day project will be encouraging the people of Dundee to have FUN in January 2014… on a daily basis! We don’t mean to shock, so we think it is good to be honest about our intentions from the start. We want the people of Dundee to have more FUN!

Fun A Day dundee, 2014

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