American artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) has been called the “Mother of American Modernism,” well-known for her flowing, colorful works of flowers and plants as well as Southwestern landscapes. In November 2014, her painting Jimson Weed, White Flower No. 1 was auctioned for $44.4 million dollars, making it the highest-selling work of art by a female artist. Her journey turns out have distinctly South Carolina roots, explored in CAROLINA STORIES: Georgia O'Keeffe, A Woman on Paper.
In 1915, O’Keeffe accepted a teaching position at Columbia College, wanting to escape New York for a more isolated existence with direct access to nature. It was here that she created a unique series of charcoal drawings, abstract images in black-and-white that were nothing like she had ever done. These drawings were representative of ideas garnered from her walks through the landscape of the college, and were later shown in a major art gallery in New York. This work would be the foundation for her entire career and was pivotal to her development as one of the most significant modern artists of the 20th century.
SCETV director Sanford Adams notes “ It's truly one of those gems, one of those little unknown stories, that have a profound effect on how we think about history. It exposes the complex nature of history and its intricate fabric. It’s also a beautiful story about the passion of creativity and the determination of this talented artist to live and work by her own ideals. “
The program follows O’Keeffe’s career through various artistic stages, ending permanently in New Mexico, where she created more realistic paintings with vivid color. These Southwestern paintings are renowned for her depiction of shapes in nature; a technique which she first applied in charcoal in Columbia, S.C.
Scholars who give insight into O’Keeffe’s life and works include Jacqueline Adams, director of the Goodall Gallery at Columbia College; Cody Hartley, director of curatorial Affairs at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum; Dr. Erika Doss, professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame; and Stephen Nevitt, professor of art at Columbia College.
This program was produced in partnership with the Columbia Museum of Art and Columbia College, and commemorates the 100-year anniversary of O’Keeffe’s tenure in Columbia. Support for the program was provided by Suzan and Ed Sellers, Joe and Melissa Blanchard, the Humanities Council SC, the City of Columbia, and Elielson and DeAnne Messias. Sanford Adams is writer/producer/director/editor; Steve Folks is executive producer.