“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.” –Georgia O’Keeffe
We live between the walls of traffic and corporations, above a floor of concrete and asphalt, below a roof of skyscrapers and bridges. Dallas, similar to every other major city, is fast-paced: fast cars, fast food, fast technology, even those taking their daily walks are power walking. We shoot our espresso and take elevators to save time.
But 600 miles away, time moves slow, so slow you wonder if it’s moving at all. 600 miles away stretches blue skies so wide that you forget the earth is round. 600 miles away mountains reach so tall they look to touch the sky; like fingers, they pull the clouds into stands of white wisps that expand across the entire horizon. 600 miles away, Georgia O’Keeffe found a moment, a moment in time when she looked across the New Mexican landscape and she stopped as the vast skies to the smallest bones and fake flowers from country stores became her world.
Born to a farm on Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Georgia would explore seven states before she discovered New Mexico in 1917 as she paused on a road trip home to Texas from Colorado. Another 22 years after that until she made New Mexico her own in 1949 until she passed away in 1986. During her travels across America, Georgia produced over 1,000 pieces of work, from still-life oil paintings to charcoal drawings (which caught the eye of Alfred Stieglitz of New York’s 291 art gallery in 1916, landing Georgia her first one-person show in 1917). As a woman who was well traveled in her country, her art obviously reflecting this, Georgia became frustrated with the “Great American” movement, criticizing her peers for claiming their works were exemplary “American” pieces when very few of the artists and writers had never crossed the Hudson. This spurred Georgia into a series involving red, whites and blues, her own “Great American” work from an artist that had traveled vast majorities of her country and had come to known it intimately.
Long critiqued for the sensuality of her color palette and focus on the curvy centers of floral, Georgia has retorted her critics obtrusive thoughts on her work as much as she denies the symbolism of death in her bone paintings: “I merely like the shapes,” Georgia insisted.
As we rewind, we see that, unlike many artists, Georgia O’Keeffe’s focus was not on an upheaval of emotion and symbolism of her countless moves and sultry relationship with landscape and husband Stieglitz. Instead, Georgia’s work inspires us with the simplicity of that is around us as she simply loved that around her: the curves of bones from the New Mexican floor, a friend and a tree that friend used to sit below, and the moment you are still despite the world moving fast around you, lost deep in between a flower’s petals and stigma.