|O'Keeffe, with an expanse behind her.|
Shortly after arriving in the endless openness that is West Texas, Georgia O'Keeffe wrote to her friend, Anita Pollitzer: "Anita - I am so glad I'm out here - I can't tell you how much I like it. I like the plains - and I like the work - everything is so ridiculously new - and there is something about it that just makes you glad you're living here - so maybe there is something wrong with me that I am liking it so much." (1916)
Coming from the east coast, O'Keeffe was certainly struck by this jarring expanse, so much so that the Southwest became her enduring muse and subject in her later art, as well as her final home. This is the first thing I love about Georgia O'Keeffe: she found inspired newness and beauty in a place so desolate and lonely when I find it easy after living here many years to say, "I hate this drought and this wind and this land ... why do I live here? There is nothing beautiful here!"
I have always been drawn to the pastoral - that idealized, romantic perspective of place. Green places, especially. However, circumstance keeps me in West Texas, and I make the most of it. This is my "desert pastoral:" an attempt to find the peaceful, idyllic way of life (a pastoral) in a landscape that appears to be entirely unforgiving and lifeless. I believe such a contradiction exists here, as I see a very beautiful landscape, full of vibrant and hardy living things and people who exhibit a simple way of life. I try to keep in mind O'Keeffe's wonder of this land when I feel overwhelmed by its severity. It is not hard for me to find beauty here when I look for it. I hope you find your own pastoral, as well.