photo of Georgia O’keeffe’s Jack-in-the-pulpit vi, 1930 from o’keeffe by brita benke
I was thinking today of your series of paintings of Jack-in-the-pulpits where you moved closer and closer to the spadix in each painting, until it is not recognizable for what it is yet it tells the whole story. In O’Keeffe by Brita Benke, Benke says:
“The absolute size of the object, its dimension, is concealed behind the relative size presented within the format of the picture, it’s proportion. O’Keeffe thereby reveals a reverence for all Creation, the same reverence which, according to Walt Whitman, makes no distinction between a leaf of grass and the stars in the firmament.”
In my acting training at Brooklyn College I learned that the sounds within some words hold the feeling, the spark of the word and the very sound itself can evoke the meaning held therein.
I have a desire to take this journey with you, starting at the outer edges and going in in in until we are not talking about you and me anymore but we are waltzing. There is no description necessary. Our breath holds the whole story.
For a very long time I was standing outside the door to your room, this Room Two, listening and hearing nothing inside, afraid to knock for fear I may disturb you. Then I felt one day that you opened the door and we were looking at each other face to face. And you said “yes?” and I rambled here’s what I would like to do, and here’s how and why and it all sounded so weird and fake to me but you left the door open and walked away so I walked in. Now we are here in this room together, and you are watching me trying to pin it down, make sense or explain all of it in some way…like I’m in a museum and I need to find the way to my heart through my eyes.
And your lesson is always the same. Sit and listen. Walk the dog. Make a salad. Paint, write, research. Clean the floors. Bring a sense of beauty to all that you can, and don’t explain yourself. Explaining can begin to sound like a lot of noise and this sky is way too big for all that noise. Just breathe. There is no separation between your breath and that sky.
Suddenly this is all seeming very real.
Thank you to my friend Debra for sitting down and telling me about her recent experiences in Abiquiu, her voice carrying the landscape and Georgia herself across the states to share with me.