A visit to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe has me reeling. O’Keeffe is recognized as the Mother of American Modernism and I was eager to view her artwork up close. I expected her paintings to be inspiring. I was not disappointed. The surprise was that her words and philosophy of living are equally inspiring.
Georgia documented her beliefs and preferences in letters, diaries, interviews, and articles. I find them fascinating.
"Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest."
“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
“I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at — not copy it.”
"Everyone has many associations with a flower — the idea of flowers. You put out your hand to touch a flower, lean forward to smell it, maybe touch it with your lips without thinking, or give it to someone to please them. Still, in a way, nobody sees a flower really. It is so small. So I said to myself, I’ll paint what I see — what the flower is to me, but I’ll paint it big, and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it. I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.”
"Making the unknown — known in terms of one's medium is all absorbing. If you stop to think of form as form, you are lost. The artist's form must be inevitable. You mustn't think you won't succeed."
“I found that I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way — things I had no words for.”
“That door is what made me buy this house. I waited ten years to get the house because of that door.”
“Color is one of the great things in the world that makes life worth living to me. And as I have come to think of painting, it is my effort to create an equivalent with paint for the world — life as I see it.”
“What one sees from the air is so simple and so beautiful I cannot help feeling that it would do something wonderful for the human race.”
Georgia O’Keeffe lived from 1887 to 1986. She was lively, witty, and committed to maintaining her own identity. She honestly expressed both her clarity and her confusion about life. She was ambitious and determined at the same time as she was shy and vulnerable. She was averse to compromise and painted the world as eloquently as she saw it.
I feel an affinity for this amazing woman artist. Maybe it’s because at the same time as she embraced the vibrant colors of life, she dressed in black.