Your Museum Time
Thanks again for being part of the Your Museum Time program, which debuted this fall. This week's prompt was created by two of our Student Guides, Julia Pfau and Blythe Romano.

Please note that our last prompt this semester will be next week, on November 19, but we'll be back when JanPlan begins in 2021. Next week, you'll also receive a survey about this program. Your feedback is much appreciated.

In addition, please be on the lookout for a larger survey in December from the Museum, asking about all of the programs we've been doing during the pandemic. We've been trying a lot of new things as we've transitioned to virtual and self-guided experiences, and we'd really appreciate your thoughts on what you have found relevant and engaging during these challenging times.

Please know that if you have questions, ideas for prompts, or any suggestions, I would love to hear from you at

All the best,

Kris Bergquist
Mirken Curator of Education and Engagement
Prompt #10

"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way, things I had no words for."
– Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was a prominent 20th-century American modern artist. She created works depicting recognizable objects as well as experimenting with abstract techniques, which allowed her to more directly express emotions in her work. Although Birch and Pine Trees—Pink is from her earlier career, she is perhaps best known for her late work of the New Mexico landscape and her close-up paintings of flowers.

Grab a stool at the Welcome Desk and enter the Museum. Head down to the Sam L. Cohen Gallery and take a seat in front of Georgia O'Keeffe's Birch and Pine Trees Pink.
Georgia O'Keeffe's Birch and Pine Trees— Pink is located in the Sam L. Cohen Gallery.
Settle in front of the work of art. Gently wiggle your fingers and do some neck stretches to release tension. Clear your mind and begin to study the artwork, taking everything in.

Notice the thin, silver-painted frame of the piece.

O’Keeffe frequently used simple wood and metal materials to frame her artwork. Alfred Stieglitz, who was one of the first to display the artist's works at 291, his gallery, eventually becaming the artist's husband and an influential promoter of her work, wrote in 1916 that he had concerns about framing O’Keeffe’s works. He thought it would cause them to “lose… their freedom.”

How does this quote illuminate the choice of the frame in your mind?
Do the colors of the work remind you of anything you have seen in your life or travels?

Georgia O’Keeffe was greatly inspired by the natural scenery during her visits to Lake George, New York. In this piece, O’Keeffe uses pinks, oranges, and greens in a range of dark and light shades. In several other pieces from O’Keeffe’s Birch and Pine Trees series, autumnal colors like red and orange are used to indicate foliage, as in the bright orange in the upper left corner of this work. 

Consider the title of the piece: Birch and Pine Trees—Pink. Do the colors and shapes that may at first seem unfamiliar take on a different meaning in light of the title?

O’Keeffe often used natural imagery to represent her own emotions and events in her life. O’Keeffe has alluded to the fact that Birch and Pine Trees—Pink was actually a surrogate portrait of her friend, the prominent African-American author Jean Toomer, who was one of the visitors at her Lake George home during the summer of 1925. She described it in a letter to him, as "a painting I made from something of you the first time you were here."

O'Keeffe was an American modernist painter, and one of the characteristics of that tradition was experimentation. Is there anything that feels experimental and modern about what you're seeing in this painting?

O'Keeffe's depiction of nature was quite different than earlier artists working in the landscape tradition. Compared to landscapes that showed an illusion of depth, her canvases tended to look flatter—a modernist tradition. Her choice of colors and mix of sharp lines and hazy sections led to a work that, while certainly reminiscent of birch and pine trees, also had a more dreamlike quality.
BANNER: Colby College Museum of Art; photo © trentbellphotography.
Artwork: Georgia O'Keeffe, Birch and Pine Trees-Pink, 1925, Oil on canvas, 36 in. x 22 in. (91.44 cm x 55.88 cm). The Lunder Collection. Accession Number: 2013.220

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