“Power up” was a Richfield Oil Company advertising slogan that artist, educator, and Roman Catholic nun Corita Kent transformed into an activist motto.
The banner originally hung at Immaculate Heart College, where Kent taught, above an auditorium stage-turned-altar during the 1966 end-of-year celebration. That year’s event focused on “Food for Peace,” and the banner was accompanied by hundreds of loaves of bread and fruit baskets lined up along the altar to represent the literal and metaphorical gifts of the Eucharist. The words of antiwar activist-priest Daniel Berrigan, lining the lower portion of the prints, emphasize the theme:
… Sometime in your life, hope you might see one starved man, the look on his face when the bread finally arrives. Hope you might have baked it or bought it or even needed it for yourself …
In 1968, Kent moved to Boston, leaving behind Immaculate Heart and the convent. That year, she made the circus alphabet series: one print for each of the twenty-six letters in the English alphabet. In her usual style, she paired images with the activist, literary, lyrical, and poetic words of writers such as e. e. cummings, Albert Camus, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
From the exhibition: Give a damn. (June 30 – September 30, 2018)