Georgia O’Keeffe: Food, Art & Nature

Georgia O’Keeffe: Food, Art & Nature
September 7, 2017 Christina Mullin

“Georgia O’Keeffe seemed to be deeply in tune with and at home in nature that, in the eyes of Steiglitz, she was nature. She walked with grace, straight as a reed, and seemed so much a part of the outdoors that for Steiglitz it was though…some lovely woodland being had become their guest,” wrote her friend Anita Pollitzer.

“This is my day- digging and smoothing the earth and pulling weeds- being rained on in my hat and rain coat- being hot when the sun came out, and liking it all.” Georgia O’Keeffe

Following my visit to the show “Living Modern: Georgia O’Keeffe” at the Brooklyn Museum, NY this past spring and reading Dinner with Georgia by Robyn Lea, I felt like I was getting to know her for the first time. Did you know that she was a skilled seamstress who made her own clothes, stored dried goods in glass jars and collected rocks?!

-The black rocks from the road to the Glen Canyon dam seem to have become a symbol for me—of the wideness and wonder of the sky and the world. They have lain there a long time with the sun and the wind and the blowing sand making them into something that is precious to the eye and hand—to find with excitement, to treasure and love-Georgia O’Keeffe

-Photo credit Bruce Weber, Abiquiu, New Mexico,1984


Her dedication to simplicity, naturalness, and how organic forms animated her art, also impacted the way she dressed and how she organized her domestic environments. She consistently applied her modern aesthetic to everything she touched. Georgia O’Keeffe’s deep affinity for nature has been fully documented, but she was also very interested in eating healthy, and in growing, preparing and cooking her own food (her borscht recipe is featured in the Fall Almanac issue).

Photo credit Todd Webb, Ghost Ranch,1962

Lastly, Georgia O’Keeffe loved to forage for wild ingredients on her walks, coming home with watercress from the cold streams that ran off the high mountains down canyons and purslane, in the wilderness near her home in New Mexico. As well as a pleasurable activity, foraging during wartime (1943,) was also partly necessity for anyone wishing to eat fresh greens. When she finally had her own garden, it provided an endless and ever-changing array of salad ingredients, including radishes, deer tongue lettuce, fresh herbs, nasturtium, onions, and tomatoes.

“I loved walking in the low sun- evening light through the red and purple earth- bending or kneeling often to pick the small fragrant leaves…it amuses me to be hunting something an antelope likes so well…to find something to eat- growing wild out in that bare place.” -Georgia O’Keeffe 1887-1986