Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George
American artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) seemed to have a love-hate relationship with feminism. She once exclaimed, “I am not a woman painter!” and yet the pro-suffrage National Women’s Party member also said, “I believe in women making their own living. It will be nice when women have equal opportunities and status with men so that it is taken as a matter of course.”
Numerous books claim that O’Keeffe was bisexual, but this too falls into murky historical waters. What is clear is that many LGBT supporters and individuals–especially lesbians–relate to her art and legacy. Artist Judy Chicago, a longtime champion of gay rights who embraced feminism, included O’Keeffe in her own seminal work, “The Dinner Party,” which presents a veritable pantheon of women artists, poets, novelists, rulers and goddesses.
Flowers, which O’Keeffe beautifully and unforgettably painted, can themselves be bisexual. Most large, showy flowers, such as lilies and roses, are bisexual, possessing both male and female reproductive structures. Artists infuse their works with their own particular energy and life’s experiences, so it’s fascinating to experience O’Keeffe’s tremendous power through something as seemingly soft and non-threatening as a flower, a lake or another aspect of nature. The images, for us, explode from their surfaces with captivating sensual energy.
But perhaps you perceive something else in them. Whatever your personal response is, the images likely will lure you in like an ephemeral flower attracting desirous honeybees. Let your own imagination take flight.