I recently visited the Crystal Bridges Museum, something I've wanted to do for all the 6 years I've spent in Tulsa. Jeremy and I were in Arkansas for a wedding he was in, and I found myself with half a day to spend in the museum. Let me first say, I vastly underestimated the beauty of the state of Arkansas altogether, but I was pleasantly surprised to encounter only individuals with full sets of teeth. Just kidding....but seriously. My first impression of the museum was how enveloped it is by the lush landscape that Arkansas offers. It feels like someone parted a few blades of grass and placed the museum right there. The museum itself is a work of architectural wonder that truly honors the art that inhabits it. While I was there I attended the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit, also featuring other artists that take inspiration from nature and the human effect on it. The juxtaposition of that theme with the Arkansas nature provided a unique lens through which to view the art. Personally, I've never found much interest in the work of Georgia O'Keeffe, but like with most everything in life, learning the story behind it gives way to more intrigue. Like many artists, O'Keeffe had something intangible inside of her that she felt she could give form to through her work. She knew that the only way to have a chance of communicating with others the experience nature provided her, was simply to start painting. One of my favorite quotes from the exhibit reads, "I tried to paint what I saw. I thought someone could tell me how to paint a landscape, but I never found that person. I just had to settle down and try",
O'Keeffe had many wonderful and profound experiences from nature, and she wanted to give others a chance to experience that as well. She found incredible stillness and clarity in the plains of the New Mexico deserts that she couldn't find among people. Her choice of color, and abstract strokes were the words she used to share her experience. Many people tried to interpret her closely cropped paintings of flowers as symbols of female sexuality, but she was insistent that it was her way of drawing attention to the parts of the world that people had begun to take for granted: that which has always been there. Learning this especially resonated with me since we live in a time when ecological preservation is at the forefront of scientific conversations. For generations we have taken our natural resources for granted, much like other things we think will always be there: family, health, safety. I love that art allows us to preserve memories and call attention to things that seem forgotten in the most beautiful and varied ways. Experiencing this exhibit in such a breathtaking museum, among the vibrant Arkansas landscape, it gave me a renewed appreciation for the things I've been taking for granted. I hope that through my art you find experiences of your own, memories you'd forgotten, and something that resonates with you.