Captivating a Soul’s Flight
Georgia O’Keeffe, born November 15, 1887, in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, was an American artist. She began her artistic career in New York City under the wing of artist, Alfred Stieglitz in 1916, and her drawings and paintings quickly became a prevalent part of his already prominent studio, 291. After a stint of teaching in the great spaces of the vast plains and vibrant canyons of Amarillo, Texas, and Canyon, Texas, O’Keeffe had an intense desire to find a new source of inspiration. She moved to New Mexico after being captivated by the enchanted land in 1929. The artist was forty-one years old and already at the height of popular acclaim. O’Keeffe found a new, dramatic world and painted “Black Cross, New Mexico” in the summer of the same year.
At first glance, the painting can be rather obtuse with such a definitive black cross blocking a beautiful sunrise; however, after spending some time with the painting, the canvas presents its story. Georgia O’Keeffe had great admiration for the Catholic blanket spread about New Mexico and the abundant amount of crosses representing departed souls. This particular primitive cross was put together by four nails which O’Keeffe painted a slightly lighter color of black, giving the cross an aesthetic beauty. Just beyond the black cross, she began her depiction of the distance to the infinite horizon with the contrasting power of white rolling grounds, nearly fluid-like. Within the human soul, there lies an innate desire for that infinite horizon. Upon seeing the ocean with no end or watching a tumble weed roll across the infinite plains of the Texas panhandle, the human soul is reunited with a feeling of freedom. O’Keeffe understands this human desire. She paints the hills giving the eyes the freedom to reach for the infinite horizon and therefore, sets the soul on flight, but not too quickly. The dark, sort of ominous colors of the Southwest’s sleeping hills keep the soul at bay by...
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