Rooted in Place

November 17, 2023

Throughout her life, Georgia O’Keeffe returned over and over to depictions and descriptions of trees in paintings, sketches, watercolors, and even in her letters. She captured trees from her travels around the world and from her various homes. Trees served as her entry point to a place, allowing her to relate to and understand wherever she was.

In partnership with the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, this talk explores trees native to New Mexico that O’Keeffe depicted in her work. Focusing on regional keystone species, Linda Churchill, Bess Murphy, and Yaritza Martinez Pule discuss how and why O’Keeffe focused on these plants and their broader ecological realities.

This talk gives insight into the current exhibition Rooted in Place, on view until April 15, 2024.

About the Speakers:

Linda Churchill, Horticulture Director, Santa Fe Botanical Garden:

Linda learned to love nature from her earliest childhood, gardening and exploring the world through regular family “nature walks” and other outings. From her Midwestern roots, travels took her to Florida State for university degrees in English and Italian, then to Italy, California, and other places before she discovered New Mexico was where she was meant to be all along.  After working for prestigious Santa Fe landscaping firms for several years, Linda and two colleagues formed their own design-build landscape partnership, where she developed skills in many areas of garden design and maintenance.  Linda has been active with the Santa Fe Botanical Garden as a board member, docent, volunteer, or horticultural advisor since 1998.  Her position now as Head Gardener keeps her happily engaged with the plants, volunteers, and staff of the Garden. She believes in creating gardens where people of all ages can connect to the awe and beauty of the natural world now and in the future.

Bess Murphy, Luce Curator of Art and Social Practice, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum: 

Bess Murphy joined the Museum in 2022 where she oversees exhibitions, programs, and initiatives bridging the museum and artists and community. Previously, she worked for eight years at the Coe Center for the Arts as Creative Director and Curator, where she worked with leading Native artists, community members, and students to develop programs and exhibitions. At the Coe, she worked on many artist-driven projects including the social engagement exhibition Giving Growth with Eliza Naranjo Morse and Jamison Chas Banks and the immersive project Function with Cannupa Hanska Luger. She also directed the Coe’s education programming. Bess received her PhD in Art History, with a focus on Native American 20th C. art, from the University of Southern California. She has taught Art History and Museum Studies at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and the Institute of American Indian Arts and has held positions at galleries, museums, art centers, and alternative artist-led art spaces. 

Yaritza Martinez Pule, Curatorial Assistant, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum:

Yaritza Martinez Pule joined the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in 2022 as Curatorial Assistant after completing a Fulbright research grant. Previously, she was a curatorial research fellow at Museo Franz Mayer in Mexico City and a curatorial assistant at 80WSE Gallery, a gallery affiliated with New York University where she co-curated and organized exhibitions with the Institute of Fine Arts, the Costume Institute, and Steinhardt’s Department of Art. In addition, she was a visiting scholar in the archives at Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla. She holds an MA from New York University in Visual Culture and Costume Studies where she concentrated her research on the historical and cultural dimensions of textiles and costumes, and a BA from Marquette University with a focus on Art History, Digital Media Studies, and Spanish and Latin American Studies, completing a part of her art history education from King’s College London.

This talk was recorded as part of our free ‘Mornings With O’Keeffe’ lecture series on the first Wednesday of every month.