The Los Angeles City Council Votes Unanimously to Officially Designate Pop Artist and Social Justice Advocate Corita Kent’s Former Studio Building as a Historic-Cultural Monument

(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Hollywood building where iconic pop artist, educator, and social justice advocate Corita Kent (1918-1986) worked in the 1960s and made some of her most recognizable works has been officially deemed a historic-cultural monument in the City of Los Angeles.

The building was granted landmark status when the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve recommendations made by the Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC), the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee, and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell who represents the 13th district, to designate 5518 Franklin Avenue—Sister Mary Corita’s Studio—as a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM). With additional support from City Council President Nury Martinez and Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, who in 2020 introduced a five-signature letter in support of this designation to the LA Board of Supervisors, the vote passed unanimously on consent and has hugely significant implications for the preservation of art, culture and the legacy of female artists in Los Angeles and across the country.

In response to this historic news, Corita Art Center Director Nellie Scott said, “We are filled with gratitude for every person and organization that has been on this journey with us, sharing in the faith that the ordinary can indeed be extraordinary. There remains a long road to walk together in preserving and promoting the legacies of significant women artists like Corita Kent. We applaud CHC, PLUM, and the Los Angeles City Council for paving the way for future conversations focused on equity.”

Corita’s original studio building continues to illustrate the importance of art and culture in Los Angeles as a critical driver of the economy and diverse community. Only 3% of Historic-Cultural Monuments in Los Angeles are associated with women’s heritage. On a national level, only 8% are related to histories of BIPOC and women combined.

“The Los Angeles City Council giving landmark status to Corita’s studio,” added Scott, “is one critical step in redressing this disparity. This work to uphold the legacies of women artists and cultural leaders is ongoing in Los Angeles and across the U.S. Corita reminds us that hope is not just optimism; hope is hard work. Hope means showing up every day for others. As we turn the corner from this pandemic, we will need spaces like the one at 5518 Franklin Avenue.”

Upon immediately hearing about the threat to bulldoze Corita’s original studio, the Corita Art Center put together a rapid response application for the Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) in partnership with architectural historian Kathryn Wollan, Hollywood Heritage, and Los Angeles Conservancy so that a timely review on the building would be made. The nomination was accepted and was recommended for landmark status by the Cultural Heritage Commission during a meeting on December 17, 2020.

“We hope that this designation, in all that it symbolizes, will inspire present and future generations to use their talents, time, and tools for the greater collective good, and will ensure that those ethos are not only valued but recognized locally and nationally,” said Scott. “We wish to thank all of our partners: every person and organization who worked tirelessly to ensure that Corita’s studio would not be erased from history in exchange for a few parking spaces.”

The Corita Art Center is now exploring the future of how this building can be of service to the creative community as a part of the preservation of Corita Kent’s legacy.

About Corita Art Center: The Corita Art Center maintains the largest and most comprehensive collection of work by iconic pop artist pioneer Corita Kent (1918-1986). The Center’s collection is comprised of Corita’s artwork, photographs, ephemera, and other archival material that visitors won’t see anywhere else. The Corita Art Center is dedicated to preserving and promoting Corita’s artistic and educational legacy and her passion for social justice. Today, the Corita Art Center oversees image and merchandising rights, produces public programming, supports exhibition loans, and serves as a resource for information about her life and work. The Corita Art Center is a project of the Immaculate Heart Community, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary. To learn more about Corita Art Center and Corita Kent, visit www.corita.org or connect on social media channels @coritaartcenter on Instagram, @coritaartcenter on Twitter, and @coritaartcenter on Facebook.

Corita Art Center program and event
Corita Art Center hallway