During a residency in southern New Mexico, overwhelmed by the dryness and forbidding outdoors, I reinvestigated Georgia O’Keeffe, the favorite artist of my ten-year-old self. My exploration through the vast archive of O’Keeffe’s letters resulted in this series. I explored filtering my own experiences through her words. I contemplated the clichéd fame of her imagery and concurrently the state’s reputation as an artist’s paradise. Identifying with the words in Susan Sontag’s journal, "Better to know the names of flowers than to confess girlishly that I am ignorant of nature," I stayed close to the ground, stockpiling the foreign flora for drawing (Reborn: Journals & Notebooks 1947-1963). It was a manageable way to imbibe the intimidating surroundings. Profoundly lonely while I was in New Mexico, I struggled to relish and draw from the desert. I found both O’Keeffe’s work and the essence of the place still moved me in unexpected ways—there was richness to the loneliness inherent in both that mirrored my own solitude.
© Zoë Frederick 2023