Artscape: Local Author Reimagines The Life Of American Painter

Jan 26, 2017

Portrait photograph of Georgia O'Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz (1918).

For this month’s Artscape, Rhode Island Public Radio's Chuck Hinman speaks to author Dawn Tripp of Westport, MA. In Tripp’s latest novel, Georgia, she imagines the inner life of Georgia O’Keefe, an American painter known for still lives and landscapes that evoke sensual femininity. Tripp’s book is out in paperback this month. 

Dawn Tripp says she got the idea for Georgia during a visit to the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC. She says seeing abstract works by Georgia O'Keeffe was a revelation.

"I really fell in love with her art," she says. "Her abstractions have this kind of bold, visceral, glowing force. And I was just blown away by the range and scope of her abstractions, and I wanted to know that day at the Whitney, why isn’t she known for this? Why have I never seen the full range and scope of the work that Georgia O’Keeffe was doing....really before too many other American artists, male or female, were bold enough to explore that new language of art?"

Tripp says once she started working on the book, the most important thing was finding the voice to tell the story: Georgia's voice. In the clip below, Tripp describes the search that led to her discovery of the first lines of the novel:

Drawing III by Georgia O'Keeffe (1915)
Credit PD

The centerpiece of the novel is the relationship between O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, the photographer and art dealer who discovered her and promoted her to the New York art world of the 1920s.

Stieglitz was first intrigued by O'Keefe's early charcoal abstractions, like the one to the left, Drawing III.

Author Tripp says she hopes her novel sparks an interest in the reader, to find out more about Georgia O'Keeffe:

"I don’t know that she’s always been given full recognition for the force she played in the evolution in American art. And I hope that my novel brings the reader to see that. And I hope that it brings people to her art."