If you seen her as a child playing in the field near her Wisconsin farmhouse, you might pass by without thinking twice. You and I might not even realize the little girl who liked to eat dirt, play in the barnyard, and misbehave would, one day, become the greatest woman artist of her day.
Georgia O’Keeffe was born in 1887. She was the second of seven children and had a passion for art which far surpassed that of most women, and even men, of her day. When Georgia was nine, her parents arranged for her to study art with a neighbor. Each day the horse-drawn carriage would haul Georgia down the dirt road for her art lesson. She immediately fell in love with art and, almost at once, began making big plans for herself. At one point she set fire to several of her drawings. When asked why, Georgia explained that she intended to be a famous artist and didn’t want those drawings found by anyone.
The belief Georgia had in herself is the same belief so many Americans have utilized to climb over obstacles on their way to success. Perhaps her biggest obstacle was the time period in which she lived. During the 1900’s, women who studied art usually became art teachers; they never became independent, world-famous artists. Fortunately for the world, Georgia did not subscribe to this limited belief. She pressed through society’s barrier, moved to New York, and in 1918 was praised as, “The greatest female artist of her time.”
She married Alfred Stieglitz, a famous photographer, in 1924. However when Stieglitz died in 1946, Georgia moved to New Mexico and began producing, what would become, her most famous works of art. She took up residence in an isolated little village at the end of a twenty-mile dirt road. This simple adobe house was paradise to Georgia. She loved the beautiful mountains, breath-taking sunsets, and inspirational sunrises. As an artist, she had her heart’s desire. It was here she remained the next thirty years until her death.
Georgia O’Keefe did become famous; more famous than, even she, could have imagined. She was a great American full of determination, strong work ethic, and a commitment to perfection. She succeeded at a time when women were deliberately held back, but she never let obstacles slow her down. She was the heart of America.
“It’s okay to be proud to be an American.” –Gary W. Smith