Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for Georgia O'Keeffe and Mary Oliver

My theme this year is the ABCEDARIA of Women who have inspired me.

O is for Georgia O'Keeffe - wonderful artist - sometimes labelled the Mother of American Modernism.

Image result for Georgia O'Keeffe

O'Keeffe inspired me in my twenties, when I first learned about her life and art. Her art was so different than most women and men of her time. She knew how to go into a blossom and refused to paint in a dainty-like fashion. Her works reek of power and raw sexuality - whether they are skulls in a south-western desert setting, up-close and personal flowers, or architecture.

Image result for georgia o'keeffe famous paintings shells

This painting was on a poster I had up on my wall for years and years - its colour and form surprising me daily.

As always with this challenge - it isn't just the art, books, or creations of the women I'm choosing - but their life. Here is a quote from O'Keeffe - I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.

I'm also inspired by O'Keeffe's marriage to Alfred Steiglitz, world-famous photographer and gallery owner who saw that O'Keeffe was a treasure. Together they rode the waves of creative life in a bold and powerful way.

O is also for Mary Oliver - a Pullitzer prize winning poet who invites all in.Image result for mary oliver
I'm not sure when Mary Oliver entered my life but it has been a good long while. Oliver, an American poet of great stature, known for understanding the natural world and inviting us into it with grace and precision. She is an inspiration to me because of her work. I don't know that much about her private life, but that she lived with her partner Mary Malone Cook for forty years until Mary's death a few years ago. I want to share a poem with you by Oliver that continues to surprise and delight me -

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver

Do you have any artists who inspire you with their lives? Do tell me.


Margot Kinberg said...

I'm so glad you included O'Keefe here, Jan. Such an empowering artist, and with such a strong presence. I could just look at that poster you shared with us forever...

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Love O'Keefe.

I'm not familiar with Mary Oliver, but I love that poem you shared. "Wild and precious life" for sure!

Hart Johnson said...

I like Georgia O'Keefe. Always have. I am less appreciative of poetry for whatever reason. i mean occasionally I find one I really love (love Maya Angelou) but I tend to only think really heavy ideas merit it. (or a good story told in verse)