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The O'Keeffe Collection

“I have picked flowers where I found them- 
Have picked up sea shells and rocks and pieces 
of wood. When I found the beautiful white 
bones in the desert I picked them up and took
them home too. . . .I have used these things to 
say what it is to me the wideness and wonder of 

the world as I live in it.” Georgia O’Keeffe

My muse. A woman to whom life was art and art was life. 

“Georgia O’Keeffe hitching a ride to Abiquiú, Ghost Ranch, 1944”- image by Maria Chabot

O’Keeffe was an artist in times when Victorian properties and point of view still held sway. From the confines of convention and conquering her own fear, she pursued adventure, experience, education, travel, and art. Inspired by Georgia, the premise of my new ceramic collection is that we are never just one thing as people with creative hearts. We answer the call to create in many ways; all that we do, then, becomes methods of expression. My collection took careful notes from Ms. O'Keeffe:

Krista Studying The Work And Words Of Georgia O'Keeffe, Tucson Arizona, February 2021, Kendyl Hawkins

k

Artist Tools, Tucson Arizona, February 2021, Kendyl Hawkins

“She belongs not only in the history of twentieth-century art but in the history of women, costume, architecture, home decor, gardening, Southwestern culture and photography. Future students may even give her a role in homeopathic medicine, all interests she pursued with similar passion and consistency. O’Keeffe justly belongs in more than one kind of history; her breadth of interests and her excellence in all of them are what make her such an unusual artist...O’Keeffe challenged the very idea that a modernist’s creativity need solely be vested in the production of “fine art.” (Wanda Corn, Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern, 283)

Georgia O’Keeffe in pencil on the reverse, 1918 Alfred Stieglitz

Georgia blurred the boundaries between the making of art and living your life as fine art. I designed the pieces in my collection to support the many ways our notions might take us as artists. The pieces belong in our hands as we get into our creative flow in our studios, as permanent fixtures in our kitchens as we plate up our latest culinary delight; when we wander the woods and clip fresh sprigs from boughs or gather the bounty from our gardens and nestle them in these pieces, their purpose is proved: they are a place to hold collected treasures. Reach for them as you photograph, paint, serve, gather, dress, arrange and share your creations with the world. 

O'Keeffe Ceramic Collection, Tucson Arizona, February 2021, Kendyl Hawkins

Of the many avenues through which Georgia O’Keeffe lived artfully, one of my favorites is that of her unflinching style. Until I began studying her look more closely, I didn’t realize that her iconic style has many similarities to the pieces I enjoy wearing: black, monochrome, statement jewelry pieces (given as gifts!), oversized clothes and menswear, simple silhouettes and clothes that embraced the Southwest. I can really connect with her here; she and I share a love of the Southwest, which is not our native land, but a place that sources unique inspiration. “These sources refreshed her physically, mentally, artisitcally. The sky, the vastness, the sounds, the danger of the plains, Badlands, canyons, rocks, and bleached bones of the desert struck her as authentic and essential to her life as well as to her art. She wrote to Henry McBride from Taos in 1929, ‘You know I never feel at home in the East like I do out here- and finally feeling in the right place again-I feel like myself- and I like it-. . . Out the very large window to rich green alfalfa fields- the sage brush and beyond- a most perfect mountain- it makes me feel like flying- and I don't care what becomes of art.’” (Jack Cowart and Juan Hamilton, Georgia O’Keeffe Art and Letters, 189) I understand the impact of the western landscape on an Eastern-dweller. Interestingly, we both found the Southwest after being raised in the midwest, I came from Ohio and Georgia from Wisconsin. She lived and painted for some years in New York, but was always prone to wander. She loved to travel. At the request of a friend, she visited New Mexico and from that visit on, she began to craft her life in response to the draw of the West.

O’Keeffe photographed at home in Abiquiú, New Mexico, by Philippe Halsman, 1948

Krista As O'Keeffe, Tucson Arizona, February 2021, Kendyl Hawkins

“Along with denim shirts and men’s style shirts, O’Keeffe adopted new accessories in the West: hats, scarves, and pins, and gaucho hat worn by the South and Central American cowboys and imported into the American West. Ever the modernist she was drawn to the hat’s elementary geometries- a solid cylinder mounted on a round, flat plane- and it came in black, her color.

She also became very attached to collecting and wearing scarves while living in the West. Covering her head in a scarf not only satisfied her fondness for hats but was also practical as it kept her hair from drying out and getting dirty from the constant dust.

Professional photographers were especially attracted to O’Keeffes distinctive use of hats and scarves to accessorize her dresses and jeans. Those who photographed her in the West often took close-ups of her head and profile dramatically framed by something she wore from her collection of local hats and scarves. 

In the 1930’s O'keeffe also began wearing one of two pins at her neck, either at the base of her V-neck or pulling together two sides of a garment just below her chin….Judging by the many times she was photographed wearing it, a brass pin designed especially for her by Alexander Calder was her other favorite piece of jewelry. It riffed on the start of her last name: a spiral for the letter O, and then the letter K.” (Wanda Corn, Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern, 126)

Attuned to the sounds and sights of the natural world, she wrote letters about them:
“The blowing wind, the deep stillness, the animal sounds, the rustling of trees. These formed for O’keeffe a kind of natural music, made up of the life and rhythms of the earth. She made art that alludes to sounds, with references to the audible world, from the din of Manhattan to the pure songs of the prairie. She accomplished this through the form and dynamics of her composition and the pitch of her colors.” (Cowart and Hamiliton,Georgia O’Keeffe Art and Letters

, 4)

Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946): Georgia O’Keeffe [carrying a canvas], 1920s, gelatin silver print flush-mounted on card; courtesy the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Krista In Saguaro National Forest, Tucson Arizona, February 2021, Kendyl Hawkins

As her eyesight faded due to macular degeneration, Georgia took up ceramics at her home in New Mexico, again diversifying herself beyond niche artist and adding to her creations of sights and sounds, the creations of touch. I can’t help but feel a connection to her in all these many ways: the life of art and life filled with art, adventure, style, color, the Southwest inspiration; with this my collection, I make my ode to a remarkable woman and offer my recognition of the ways we answer the call to create and fill our lives with beauty.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Ghost Ranch, 1975 Dan Budnik 

Abiquiú, New Mexico, 1974 Joe Munroe

Krista Handbuilding With Clay At The Posada, Tucson Arizona, February 2021, Kendyl Hawkins

“Her genius was her oneness with herself. Her ability to generate an aura of honest and directness. There was a connection to her internal and external world that was full of truth. It appealed to a lot of people. So her flowers are flowers in their own way. They don't allude to other flowers. When she painted the West, it was the West she sensed. There was an openness in the pictures, and a magic sense of light… She was an open person, open to new experience, in a fresh and honest way that was unique. She didn't have all of her past floating around. Well up into her nineties, her world continued to be her own. She still would do some writing and work with clay, she would enjoy a walk, a record, a bottle of wine with dinner, the fireplace and being with her dogs. Just being herself in her world. Napping when she was tired, going about her business, checking the garden and receiving visitors when she felt like it… In many ways her spirit is alive through her work.” (Jack Coawart and Juan Hamilton, Georgia O’Keeffe Art and Letters, 12)

1966. Georgia O'Keeffe sitting with her rock collection, by John Loengard

Krista worked on the imagery and storytelling portion of this project with photographer and dear friend Kendyl Hawkins at Posada in Tucson- designed by Rich and Sara Combs of The Joshua Tree House. We reimagined some of Georgia O’Keeffe’s iconic photos, updated, and added some Krista styling.

Resources For Continuing Your Own O'Keeffe Appreciation …..

BOOKS:

Georgia O'Keeffe (A Studio Book), lots of pictures of her work. 

https://www.amazon.com/Georgia-OKeeffe-Studio-Book/dp/0670337080/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Georgia+Okeeffe+a+studio+book&qid=1611704250&sr=8-1

Georgia O'Keeffe and New Mexico: A Sense Of Place

https://www.amazon.com/Georgia-OKeeffe-New-Mexico-Sense/dp/0691116598/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=Georgia+Okeeffe&qid=1611704299&sr=8-4

Georgia O’Keeffe Art and Letters (MY PERSONAL FAVORITE)

https://www.amazon.com/Georgia-OKeeffe-Letters-Jack-Cowart/dp/0821216864/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Georgia+Okeeffe+art+and+letters&qid=1611704408&sr=8-1

Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern 
A fascinating resource about O'keeffe's wardrobe and her lifestyle

https://www.amazon.com/Georgia-OKeeffe-Wanda-M-Corn/dp/3791356011/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=georgia+okeefe+living+modern&qid=1611704977&sr=8-1

PODCASTS:

The History Chicks, August 11, 2018 episode 110

The Great Women Artists Podcasts October 13, 2020 episode 44 

VIRTUAL:

O’Keeffe from Anywhere, from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, so many good things here! Check out the video collection

https://www.okeeffemuseum.org/okeeffe-from-anywhere/

Tour her home in Abiquiu:

https://www.okeeffemuseum.org/home-and-studio/video-tour-homes/

 Or watch her garden grow:

https://www.okeeffemuseum.org/about-georgia-okeeffe/abiquiu-camera/

These Sketchbook entries are a collaborative effort between sisters Rachel Klis and Krista Coons, who once shared the same last name of Draper. Rachel was Krista’s first museum-going companion when the sisters would visit the Cleveland Museum Of Art. To this day, Rachel begins her art-viewing experience by taking in quotations, historical, and contextual information often found in exhibitions. Krista continues to place herself as close to the art as possible, looking at the colors and textures and loudly whispering for Rachel to, “Come and see this!” Here, Rachel beautifully wove context and historical information, and Krista collected color and O’Keeffe essence for you. 

Comments on this post (4)

  • May 08, 2021

    Dear Krista,
    This! You! O’Keefe!

    Thank you with all my heart for conceiving this exquisite collection. Each work of art in clay will support the artist and affirm her for many years to come. Her art will feel elevated and she will feel seen and inspired. What a gift you’ve given, both in creating this collection, and the obvious love you have poured into it. Thank you for sending that amazing brush to my friend Jeanne Oliver and for taking the time to include my words to her in a note. Now Jeanne knows who you are – and you may never be the same again. :))) Haha. She loves well, and she adores your work, Krista. As for me, I can’t wait to have a piece from your collection for myself soon. I’ve never seen someone put so much generous love into the release of their art. You have elevated us ALL with your care and attention to detail. God sure poured an abundance of artistic shine in you!

    Sheila Atchley
    @sheilaatchleydesigns

    — Sheila Atchley

  • Mar 20, 2021

    Krista, what a beautiful artist you art. You create magic. Thank you for investing so much thought and meaning to each collection. Thank you for slowing me down to read your emails and know there are passionate creatives like you. I am more connected with the upcoming collection because of this and cannot wait to see it all. Sending you love

    — MariaJose

  • Mar 17, 2021

    Krista, this is just the most marvelous. I love watching this collection unfold, the latest chapter in your own creative journey. I have admired O’Keeffe for such a long time and cannot wait to delve more into these books. My golden birthday is this month and I am celebrating with a trip to the New Mexico desert and the O’Keeffe museum. <3 (though I’ll have to return post-pandemic to visit her home)

    — Elizabeth

  • Mar 16, 2021

    This collaborative creative has snared the wideness and wonder of our lived in world with a celebration of beauty in its diverse forms! “Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty.” (Deiter Ucthdorf)

    — Venus

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