Meinrad Craighead and Corita Kent

This month the Library showcases and celebrates the work of two women artists:  Meinrad Craighead and Corita Kent.  Please visit the Library to view the onsite display in the lobby.

To accompany the exhibit the Library will show the DVD of Meinrad Craighead's life an art, The Meinrad Documentary Project on the following dates:

Tuesday  Feb 2   12:30 - 1:30 pm
Thursday Feb 4   12:30 - 1:30 pm
Tuesday Feb 9    12:30 - 1:30 pm
Thursday Feb 11  12:30 - 1:30 pm
Tuesday Feb 23   12:30 - 1:30 pm
Thursday Feb 25  12:30 - 1:30 pm

For more information about the DVD see

The DVD is a gift to the Library and The College community from Nancy Sullivan Murray, SAS 1950, and a contribution to the Elizabeth G. Sullivan Memorial Ecofeminism Collection named in honor of Nancy's sister.



Meinrad Craighead

Born in Arkansas in 1936, Craighead grew up in the Midwest and attended Catholic schools before graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a MFA in painting. A job as a college art teacher brought her to Albuquerque, New Mexico and there she fell in love the spare landscape of the high desert and ancient Native American cultures. Deeply religious, she imbibed the Catholic and native spiritualities of New Mexico. For over 20 years, she lived in Europe, studying and teaching.  In 1966, she entered a cloistered monastery in England and received the name, Meinrad.  Stanbrook Abbey had a fine printing business, and for several years, Meinrad’s graphic art illustrated their publications. She was fascinated with the images of the feminine divine and illustrated numerous publications of the Stanbrook Abbey Press.

Leaving the monastery after 14 years, Meinrad returned to New Mexico and kept her religious name. Unlike the city-centered Corita Kent, she was drawn to a solitary contemplative life in a simple house and studio, accompanied by silence, cottonwoods, the Rio Grande and beloved pet dogs. Painting her dreams and beliefs, she has gathered a wide following of like-minded disciples blending feminist, Native American, and archetypes of the Great Mother into her paintings. With intuitive contemplation, this artist dreams and then paints into being her images.

These two women artists drew inspiration from their surroundings and their work is imbued with their intuition and convictions. Corita is the artist of the passing image and Meinrad is the artist of the long gaze.   

The Elizabeth Sullivan (SAS 1948) Memorial Collection on Ecofeminism was founded by her sister, Nancy (SAS 1950) to honor Liz’s love of nature and inspirational women like the two artists displayed here. Meinrad Craighead exemplifies the kind of woman of vision and creativity that combines the values of reverence for nature, the divine, and the special intuition that belongs to women. 

Meinrad Craighead. The Litany of the Great River. New York: Paulist Press, 1991.

Using the image of the river, Meinrad illustrates the abiding presence of running water and repetitive prayer response (a litany). Each illustration from her dreams is accompanied with an invocation to God and a petition: “..we beseech thee.” The image of the she wolf, a Native American symbol of teacher, as well as other Pueblo animals appear in her paintings. This is a prayer book using the powers of nature to unite with the longing and desire of the human spirit.


Meinrad Craighead. Sacred Marriage: Images from the Song of Songs, Nicholas Ayo. New York: Continuum, 1997.

This portfolio of selected images illustrating the biblical love canticle, the Song of Songs, displays the artist’s meditations on the Lover’s words to His beloved. Pueblo and Native American images abound with animals and the New Mexico landscape.

Meinrad Craighead. Crow Mother and the Dog God. San Francisco. Pomegranate, 2003.

This large retrospective collection of Meinrad’s works, autobiography, and essays by friends traces the history and development of her art from young adulthood through recent years. Beginning with charcoal drawings, her art developed into black and white print-making, scratchboard, and, more recently, into opaque watercolor. Hers is a carefully worked, detailed style, a contrast to the “rapid” images of Corita Kent.


Meinrad Craighead DVD viewings:

Interested in the power of women as artists, seers, and spirit-filled?

View “Meinrad Craighead: Praying with Images” DVD on Feb. 2, 4, 9, 11, 17, 23 & 25 at 12:30-1:30 the Gill Library Instruction Room.



Corita Kent

Born in Iowa in 1918, Corita Kent became a Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and, later a college art teacher in Los Angeles. By the 1950’s she was experimenting with the multiple possibilities of serigraph—silk screen printing. Her graphic images began to include text in her own, inimitable, handwriting—passages from scripture, poetry, politics—with swathes of bold color. The Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, and urban decay of the city inspired her graphic messages. She was an early user of Pop art, juxtaposing familiar graphics from advertising with strong inspiring text.

Sister Corita’s bold messages and use of bright color caught the eye of many involved in new art expression and her bold images and messages captured national interest. Church publications, IBM, Westinghouse, and the peace movement commissioned her to design posters, banners, advertising, even a US postage stamp (“Love” in 1966). She designed the banners for the Vatican Pavilion at the 1963-64 World’s Fair (where Michelangelo’s “Pieta” was displayed). Simultaneously, she was labeled a “guerilla with a paintbrush,” and had her detractors. A publicly visible nun with strong opinions, was not always a welcome voice as Vatican II changes opened doors and minds, figuratively speaking, of many American Catholics.

Although she left her religious order in 1968, she continued to use her famous name and to create graphic images that continued to inspire many. Corita died in 1986.