In 1971, a former nun painted a 140-foot-tall natural gas storage tank with immense streaks of dazzling colour. Known colloquially as the Rainbow Swash, the enormous artwork is a Boston landmark that's a familiar sight to commuters on Interstate 93. Through Rainbow Swash's iconic slashes of colour, Blackwing's Volume 93 pays tribute to Corita Kent, sometimes called the Pop Art Nun, and her vibrant vision of a better world.
The image of the one-time Sister Mary Corita, wandering around a 1962 Andy Warhol exhibition in full black-and-white habit, makes for a delightful contrast. An art teacher since 1947, Corita used screen-printing to create her own artworks, which already played with bold colour. But the Warhol exhibition had a profound effect on her, as the language of pop art (like advertising imagery and slogans) crept into her work, moving from spiritual imagery to broaders dreams of peace and compassion.
The influence wasn't just one-way, though – Corita's work has gained more appreciation in recent years, and her role as a key figure of mid-century American art is coming to light. A provocative teacher, Corita challenged the established ideas of the art world, telling students to deliver 100 drawings by the next day, or sending them out to take in the world through a paper viewfinder to force them to see mundane things with a fresh perspective.
Blackwing's Volume 93 honours Corita and her legacy as an artist, educator and advocate for social justice through the colourful slashes of Rainbow Swash. Featuring two pencils in each of the legendary work's vibrant brushstrokes, this set of 12 pencils is capped off with a white ferrule and eraser that completes the homage to Corita, and to her towering legacy. Paired with a Rainbow Swash-inspired Notebook, Volume 93 is a colourful tribute to an underappreciated art icon.