Georgia O'Keeffe's Hawaiʻi
Patricia Jennings and Maria Ausherman
In 1938, the Dole Pineapple Co. invited Georgia O'Keeffe to come to Hawai'i to produce two paintings for their national advertising campaign. Like other great artists of her day, including Kuniyoshi, Sheets, and Noguchi, she accepted, and in the spring of 1939 spent nine weeks the Hawaiian Islands. On Maui, where she was hosted by 12-year-old Patricia Jennings, the daughter of the Hana sugar plantation manager, she had an encounter that would affect both women for the rest of their lives.
Patricia was an isolated introvert, homeschooled and raised by a highly critical mother. When Georgia O'Keeffe arrived in Hawai'i, she was in the throes of marital duress and health challenges. Georgia and Patricia's 10 days together were deeply bonding and profoundly healing. Patricia was nurtured by a mother figure and Georgia recovered emotionally and physically and produced 20 little known yet magnificent works of art.
In Georgia O'Keeffe's Hawai'i, Patricia Jennings Morriss tells the story of their encounter, offering glimpses and a fresh look at the process of the great artist through the eyes of a pre-war teen in territorial Hawai'i. O'Keeffe's 20 lush paintings of Island flora and landscapes are reproduced together here for the first time. Reflecting on her time on Maui, O'Keeffe wrote, "I enjoy this drifting off into space on an island." Years later, she added, it was one of "the best things I have done."
In 1940, O'Keeffe's Hawai'i paintings were exhibited at a An American Place in New York to critical acclaim, yet in the years since, they've only been displayed all together once. In the introduction to Georgia O'Keeffe's Hawaii, art historian Jennifer Saville asserts that O'Keeffe's nine-week sojourn in the Hawaiian Islands helped shape her career, bridging themes examined earlier to later subjects. This heartwarming, informative read fills a gap in our knowledge about the life and work of one of this great artist. With 20 paintings in full color and a host of period photos.