NARRATOR: When O’Keeffe made this charcoal drawing, she was teaching in South Carolina, far from the New York art scene. Early in 1916, a friend brought a group of O’Keeffe’s drawings to the photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Stieglitz was the proprietor of an influential New York gallery called 291. It was the first to show and support modern art in America. Stieglitz’s interest in O’Keeffe’s drawings encouraged her to continue her radical experiments. The two also began an intense correspondence, and Stieglitz debuted O’Keeffe’s charcoals in May in a three-person show at his gallery.

O’Keeffe wrote this letter to Stieglitz on February 2, 1916. At the time, she was focused on her charcoal drawings.

“Mr. Stieglitz—I like what you write me—Maybe I don’t get exactly your meaning—but I like mine—like you liked your interpretation of my drawings . . .

I have been just trying to express myself— I just have to say things you know—Words and I are not good friends at all except with some people—when I’m close to them and can feel as well as hear their response—I have to say it some way—Last year I went color mad—but I’ve almost hated to think of color since the fall went—I’ve been slaving on the violin—trying to make that talk—I wish I could tell you some of the things I’ve wanted to say as I felt them.”


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