Georgia O’Keeffe is a legend of 20th-century American art. Her life and work have taken on mythic proportions. Hawaiʻi is also mythic in our national psyche—a paradisiacal place of healing and renewal. In 1938, the Dole Pineapple Co. invited Georgia O’Keeffe to come to Hawaiʻi to produce 2 paintings for their national advertising campaign. She accepted, and in the spring of 1939, spent 9 weeks on the Hawaiian Islands. While on Maui, she was hosted by the 12-year-old Patricia Jennings, a daughter of the Hāna sugar plantation manager. This encounter would affect both women for the rest of their lives.
In Georgia O'Keeffe’s Hawai'i, Patricia Jennings Morris 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 Hawaiʻi. 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 Hawaiʻi 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 Hawaiʻi, art historian Jennifer Saville asserts that, “O’Keeffe’s 9-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 this great artist.”
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Patricia Jennings Morriss grew up in Hawaiʻi. In her lifetime she has served on the boards of directors of numerous art and charitable organizations, managed macadamia nut farms and general stores, and has been blessed with 5 children, 9 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren.
Maria Ausherman is an independent scholar interested in the history of preservation in the U.S., the history of photography, and the intersection of fine arts and documentation.
Jennifer Saville served as the curator of Western Art at the Honolulu Academy of Arts in the 1990s, curating the only showing of Georgia O'Keeffe’s Hawaiʻi paintings since 1940. She is coauthor of Finding Paradise: Island Art in Private Collections, Georgia O'Keeffe: Paintings of Hawaiʻi, A Printmaker in Paradise: The Art and Life of Charles W. Bartlett, and The American Canvas.
“A lovely scrapbook with beautiful reproductions of the Hawaiian paintings and stories about Jennings’s time with O'Keeffe.”—Boston Globe
“Georgia O'Keeffe’s Hawaii is the charming, funny memoir by Jennings … of 10 days that changed both their lives.”—Maui News
“Photographs of O'Keeffe smiling broadly are evidence of her own assertion that she considered Hawai'i one of the most beautiful and remarkable of places.”—Honolulu Academy of Arts
“If my painting is what I have to give back to the world for what the world gives to me, I may say that these paintings are what I have to give at present for what three months in Hawaii gave to me.”—Georgia O’Keeffe, in Time Magazine
“A beautifully illustrated .. thoughtful memoir by ... a 12-year-old girl, ... now an octogenarian ... [who] served as the notoriously “difficult” O’Keeffe’s companion and tour guide.”—San Francisco Chronicle