No. 15 Special
Georgia O'Keeffe, American, 1887 - 1986
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This drawing is one of several made in 1915-16 that O'Keeffe regarded as pivotal in her artistic development. She recalled the moment of its making as a sort of revelation, which she described with characteristically straightforward yet poetic phrasing: "I realized that I had things in my head not like what I had been taught not like what I had seen shapes and ideas so familiar to me that it hadn't occurred to me to put them down." Among these "shapes and ideas" were memories of the Palo Duro Canyon, today a scenic attraction of the Texas panhandle, that O'Keeffe remembered as a solitary and protective refuge. She and one of her sisters would negotiate steep descents into the canyon floor, reveling in the combined sensation of adventure and fear: "Those perilous climbs were frightening but they were wonderful to me and not like anything I had known before." One may guess that O'Keeffe viewed her artistic career as a similarly adventurous undertaking, an exploration that brought her solace and protection mixed with nervous excitement.