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Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986)

Georgia O'Keeffe was born on a farm in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.  She wanted to be an artist ever since she was a child and when she was twenty years old she enrolled in the Art Student League in New York City.  It was 1907 and women did not win the right to vote in our country until 1920.  They also faced prejudice from men who thought a woman's place was in the home.  A student asked her to pose for him.  He said, "It doesn't matter what you do, I'm going to be a great painter and you will probably end up teaching painting in some girls' school."  He was wrong.  Her paintings are in museums all over the world, and in 1962 Georgia O'Keeffe was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the nation's highest honor society for people in the arts.
Georgia O'Keeffe first became famous for her paintings of flowers. She said, "Nobody sees a flower, really, it is so small. We haven't time - and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time.  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."



Later in her life Georgia O'Keeffe  lived in New Mexico.  She collected the bones of dead animals she found in the desert so that she could study and paint them.  She said  that "something is alive on the desert, even though it is empty and untouchable...and knows no kindness with all it's beauty."   When her eyesight began to fail as she grew older, she could no longer paint.  So she started to work with clay and made pottery.  She continued to try to find beauty in everything around her until she died at the age of 98.  She said, "When I think of death, I only regret that I will not be able to see this beautiful country anymore...unless the Indians are right and my spirit will walk here after I'm gone."




Thinking About Georgia O'Keeffe
When Georgia O'Keeffe was growing up, it wasn't easy for women to work at jobs that men had.  How did she become such a successful artist?
What was special and unusual about her paintings?
What did she mean when she said, "to see takes time like to have a friend takes time".
She continued to work with clay when she could no longer see well enough to paint.  What does that show about her character and personality?

Learn More About Georgia O'Keeffe

Books
Georgia O'Keeffe: Legendary American Painter by Jodie A. Shull
Published:  Enslow, 2003
ISBN (Identification Number)  0766021041

Georgia O'Keeffe: Painter by Michael Berry
Published:  Chelsea House, 1991
ISBN (Identification Number)  0791004201

Georgia O'Keeffe by Mike Venezia
Published:  Scholastic, 1994
ISBN (Identification Number)  0516422979
 
Web Sites
An excellent brief  biography of Georgia O'Keeffe, it has wonderful quotations and there are many of her beautiful paintings and photographs of her.
http://www.ellensplace.net/okeeffe1.html
Here are some good quotations of things Georgia O'Keeffe said and links to her paintings.
http://artcyclopedia.com/artists/okeeffe_georgia.html
This student's report, "Equal Opportunities Getting A Chance To Succeed" has interesting information about women's rights that were fought for when Georgia O'Keeffe was still a young girl.
http://worldclasskids.tripod.com/equalopportunity.html

Art Share is an art appreciation project at Public School 241, Brooklyn, New York, USA
  Gary Greenberg