Thursday, February 7, 2008


Excerpts from Georgia O'Keeffe: A Life by Roxana Robinson:

Georgia was not by nature a rebel; she did not define herself through opposition. The rules on the O'Keeffe farm were strict but few, and they were founded on realities. Dangerous or insolent behavior was forbidden, but very little else was. When Georgia behaved eccentrically--she had very definite ideas about her clothes, for example--her conduct was tolerated as a facet of character. Though strong-willed, Georgia was sensible and did not need to challenge rules simply for the sake of challenge. Throughout her life she would ignore regulations that she found pointless and would take a certain glee in shocking small minds, but for her the act of confrontation was a means to an end, not an end in itself. Her goals were larger and more practical. (31)

Elizabeth Mae Willis was both principal and art teacher at Chatham. Georgia's energy and talent appealed to her, and she encouraged the girl's interest in art. Georgia was given her own table in the big, white-plastered studio, and she had permission to go there in the evening and work by herself after dinner. When the other students complained, Mrs. Willis rejoined, "When the spirit moves Georgia, she can do more in a day than you can do in a week." (45)

Georgia taught her students [in Amarillo] an approach that embraced their personal lives too....'Filling a space in a beautiful way. That's what art means to me.' This philosophy meant that all physical choices were aesthetic ones. 'I liked to convey to them the idea that art is important in everyday life. I wanted them to learn the principle that when you buy a pair of shoes or place a window in the front of a house or address a letter or comb your hair, consider it carefully, so that it looks well.' (90)

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