In 1912, at age 24, Georgia O’Keeffe boarded a train in Virginia and headed west, to the prairies of the Texas Panhandle, to take a position as art teacher for the newly organized Amarillo Public Schools. Subsequently she would join the faculty at what was then West Texas State Normal College (now West Texas A&M University). Already a thoroughly independent-minded woman, she maintained an active correspondence with her future husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz, and other friends back east during the years she lived in Texas.
In Georgia O'Keeffe's Wartime Texas Letters
(Texas A&M UP, 2020), Amy Von Lintel
brings to readers the collected O’Keeffe correspondence and added commentary and analysis, shining fresh light on a period of the artist’s life she characterizes as “some of the least appreciated in the vast O’Keeffe scholarship,” but also as “a time when she discovered her own voice as a young, successful, and independent woman . . . a dedicated faculty member at a brand-new college . . . a vibrant social butterfly . . . a progressive woman who spoke her mind and fought for her beliefs to be heard.”
Although selected paintings by O’Keeffe that support the narrative are featured, this work focuses on O’Keeffe’s words. By doing so, Von Lintel aims to allow the artist’s voice to “emerge as a powerful witness of her own life, but also of western America in a pivotal moment of its development.” The result is an important new examination of one of our most beloved artists during a time when she was in the process of discovering her future identity.
Amy Von Lintel is the Doris Alexander Endowed Professor of Fine Arts at West Texas A&M University. She is the author of Georgia O’Keeffe: Watercolors
and coauthor of Robert Smithson in Texas
. She resides in Amarillo, Texas.
Kirstin L. Ellsworth is an Associate Professor of Art History at California State University Dominguez Hills.