Textile Arts Council Lecture: "Reflecting Art: Signature Style of Georgia O'Keeffe", by Jo Ann C. Stabb
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Jo Ann Stabb, Portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe, 2013. Pen and ink on paper
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) is well known for her paintings of enlarged flower forms, sculptural desert landscapes, and stark natural elements interpreted with great freedom, ranging from precise realism to poetic abstraction. This “paring down” to essential shapes and forms characterized her dress as well, which was dominated by stark black and white shapes capturing the essence of form.
These style characteristics can be seen throughout her life, even from a young age, when she preferred plain, dark, or black clothing alternating with white in the summer. These preferences correlate to the work she created when she enrolled in art classes—charcoal drawings, in rich black on white—and declared her intent to become an artist by age 13. Later, through her association with Alfred Stieglitz, she became aware of the powerful abstraction in black-and-white photography. All of these elements helped define her basic aesthetic sensibilities that were reflected in her personal appearance.
O'Keeffe's distinctive style became immediately recognizable. The simplicity seen in her landscape paintings, and the abstraction of her still-life compositions as well as her floral forms, flowed seamlessly back and forth into her wardrobe and personal appearance. As she stated: “Nothing is less real than realism—details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get the real meaning of things.”
This lecture-presentation will examine the continuity of stylistic characteristics and the deliberate links that Georgia O’Keeffe made between her art, her personal wardrobe, and her signature style.
Jo Ann Stabb served from 1968 to 2002 on the design faculty of UC Davis, where she developed the fashion/wearable art curriculum, a key component of the design program. She taught the History of Costume/Fashion and Ethnographic Costume among other courses, emphasizing creative expression in clothing and contemporary fashion. She has lectured extensively, written articles and reviews, served as curator of the UC Davis Design Collection and for several groundbreaking exhibitions of wearable art for local art museums and art centers, and served as executive producer for the video series Wearable Art from California in 1984–1985 that was distributed nationally by the American Craft Council and internationally by the United States Information Agency. Her own creative design work has been periodically exhibited at leading museums for more than 30 years.
Admission is FREE to TAC members, $10 for non-members, and $5 for FAMSF members and students with I.D.