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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WORDS: Pecha Kucha Night Vol 12

In May 2015 I was asked to speak at Dundee Pecha Kucha Night Vol 12, with the open invitation to discuss any topic. The only limit being the format = 20 images, each for 20 seconds. 

I selected to discuss words.

I planned what I was going to say. 20 seconds per slide really doesn’t seem like alot, it goes even quicker when you are on a stage with a couple of hundred people in front of you. So I didn’t keep to my plan exactly. However, I’ve embedded the words and images that I planned to say below. You can compare and contrast. Continue reading “WORDS: Pecha Kucha Night Vol 12”

Making Marks in the Sand

Love sunny days 🙂 last of my sand writing for today #words #sand #beach #writing

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Sometimes the most simple actions are the most rewarding.

Sometimes the most natural views are the most satisfying.

Reflections of the clouds in the water #sea #beach #water #reflections #photo

A photo posted by Hazel (@hazler_06) on

Sometimes it is nice to know that the mark you make is not permanent.

I recently spent a good few hours wandering around St Andrews beach and I was looking for excuses not to leave. So I made a small H in the sand. Marking my spot gave me an excuse to stay a little longer. There is something wonderful about making marks in sand. It is a flexible and responsive surface that allows you to play, build and write without any pressure. With the knowledge that your marks in the sand will be somewhat fleeting.

Sometimes it is nice to do the obvious.

The first mark made me want to write more… So I decided to write a few basic beach instructions, with the vague hope that someone might find them and follow them. They are not groundbreaking requests. They are probably the most obvious thing you can do on a beach. However, sometimes it is easy to forget to do the obvious and it can be nice to get a reminder.

The complete set of instructions 🙂 I enjoyed following them #beach #words #writing #scotland

A photo posted by Hazel (@hazler_06) on

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WALK THIS WAY

WALK THIS WAY.

I saw this sign the other day and it made me smile and think. It was not directing me to go in the direction of anything specific, but out of curiosity I decided to follow it. I walked to the left as the sign directed and I found myself with a low wall to my left and stacks of fishing nets to my right, beyond the wall was a small river and to right of the nets was the boat filled harbour. It was a pleasant little detour and enjoyed peering over the wall at the water below and photographing the twists and turns in the nets.  I walked until I reached the point at which the water that had been on either side of me met and I discovered I was at a dead end. I guess I could have jumped in the water, I do like swimming, but on this occasion I decided that the best option was to turn around and come back.

Upon returning past the sign and subsequently walking in the opposite direction to the arrow, I began to question the intentions of the original sign maker/hanger/instigator. I began to wonder whether they had hoped to encourage people to take the time to walk up this underused path at the harbour, or had simply hoped to discourage people from walking a different route. I questioned what people would do if the sign did not exist and whether it was a positive or negative addition to the space. I didn’t come to any particular conclusions, as this questioning happened in the space of a few seconds inside my head before I was distracted by the waft of fresh fish and chips.

I am constantly curious about the number of words that exist in our built environment. A number of these words come in the form of signage, but signs don’t need to be formal structures. In fact, I often wonder if people are so used to the formal qualities of official signs that they become rather blind to them, that or they subconsciously submit to them. I saw a lot of signs when I was walking around New York earlier this year and yet these words ‘NO LOITERING’ that were chalked into a stairway were the ones that stood out to me. Perhaps they stood out, as at the exact moment I spotted them I must have been loitering in some way and they caught me in the act as I turned to look directly at them. It was as if these words had preempted that the spot in front of their appartment was the one that I would take to rest for a minute after walking for hours.

I guess that is what most signs do, they run through possible scenarios for a specific place or space and then they try to guide people in what is deemed as the best way to navigate. I think most signs have good intentions, and sometimes signs in the form of identification and navigation are definitely necessary.

However, sometimes it is also nice to decide for yourself which way to walk, as it can make the simplest journeys in life seem just a little bit more like an adventure.

Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson