It was the last week of my study of Corita Kent. :( Here's my notes:
After leaving the convent, Corita took on more commercial work––posters, book covers, magazine designs, greeting cards, logos, etc. In 1971 she was commissioned to paint a natural gas tank for Boston Gas Company. Her design is called Rainbow Swash and it became the largest copyrighted artwork in the wold at 140 feet.
There's lots of interesting stories around it. Some people see the profile of Ho Chi Minh on the left side of blue swash. Corita was a peace activist and against the Vietnam war but denied the accusation. Post 9/11 and post Boston Marathon bombings, security around the tank is very tight. A photographer in 2004 taking pictures from public property got a visit from the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Others attempting to visit or photograph the tank are met with security guards and even lawsuits.
In 1974, Corita was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Corita was shocked; she'd rarely had a sick day in her life. She began treatment in Los Angelos with the help of her sister, Mary.
In 1977 Corita was again diagnosed with cancer, this time in her colon. Watercolor painting, printing, and photography sustained her. Her work changed––more loose, softer, gestural, inspired by nature. In 1979 her sister Mary died of cancer.
In 1983 Corita received a commission from Physicians for Social Responsibility. Corita called the “we can create life without war” billboards the most religious thing she’d ever done.
In 1985 the US postal service published the Love stamp by Corita Kent. The stamp's first day of issue celebration took place on the TV show The Love Boat. Corita refused to attend; said that was not the kind of love she meant. She had wanted the stamp to be unveiled at the United Nations with its rainbow of international flags waving.
In response, she made Love Is Hard Work. The Love stamp became the most popular ever, with sales of more than $700 million (at 22 cents each.)
In 1986, Corita was diagnosed with cancer for the third time, this time in her liver. She died on September 18, 1986 at the age of 67. She wrote:
She left her unsold works and copyrights to the Immaculate Heart Community and her ashes were spread over Mary Catherine's (her sister's) in the rose garden of Mary's house.