Wise Words from Corita Kent

This is week three of the #MusicTherapyBlogger challenge, and this time we were asked to share an quote that we find inspirational. Here's mine.

"Structures are restraints - a way of limiting.
What you can build within restraints and structures is almost limitless."
- Corita Kent

This quotation has been part of my office area and creative space since I first heard it way, way back! It expresses my attitude about the need for structure as well as the freedom that is available within that structure. It's been something that I try to practice on a regular basis - finding the creative way to function within the restraints that are placed upon me and that I place upon myself.

This year, however, I learned a bit more about Ms. Kent. I was driving from work, listening to All Things Considered, when I heard the magic words, "Corita Kent." I turned the radio up and paid close attention. Here's the link to the NPR article

Ms. Kent was actually Sister Mary Corita Kent, a nun who painted silkscreens and who left her college teaching position and the convent due to disagreements with the church hierarchy, but continued to remain within the church while she created her art. Sr. Kent's art work took familiar elements of society and then shaped them into God-based messages, often with a focus on peace during the era of the Vietnam war. Apparently she had periods of immense creativity and productivity as well as insomnia and depression. She passed away in 1986.

For me, her words became more significant once I knew what was going on in her lifetime and history. Her disagreement with the church hierarchy came out of the reforms that were provided to nuns under the agreements of Vatican II - her order embraced those reforms wholeheartedly and the archbishop did not. Conflict. Restraint. A changing structure with restraints imposed by people who did not want the structure to change.

I, for one, am very thankful that Sr. Kent did find her way to freedom within the structures imposed upon her into her way.

What does this have to do with music therapy?

There are rules that we follow during music therapy sessions - rules of music theory, rules of HIPPA/FERPA and other legislative restraints, rules of therapeutic intervention, rules of treatment plans, and various and sundry other rules. The rules offer us the boundaries, the initial foundation, but the opportunities within those boundaries are only limited by our own creativity. The rules are like the walls of a house - they stay put and contain. When you go into a house, the possibilities inside are endless. You can do anything with the walls, the floor coverings, the furniture, all of that is possible and can change whenever. Music therapy is that way as well.

I embrace the challenge of finding creative ways to function within the structures that are imposed upon me.

Thank you, Corita Kent.


Here are some more links to information and blog posts (some of them my own) about this artwork.


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