The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum has invited photographer Jo Whaley to install her large-scale images among the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe to open a new perspective on the painter’s modernist compositions. An idea eagerly accepted by the photographer who suggested the title Echoes. Though aware of O’Keeffe’s art, Whaley created the body of work on view prior to the invitation. The goal of the exhibition is to understand the continuing resonance of O’Keeffe’s art in the twenty-first century. By exhibiting Whaley’s art in the Museum, the innocence of O’Keeffe’s motivation to celebrate the grandeur and mystery of nature comes into sharp focus.
Whaley’s work created decades after O’Keeffe’s career ended, contemplates the human threat to the wonders of the natural world. Formally similar, the artists share a love for saturated color and bold compositions, even their uncanny compositions share an elegant vocabulary of form. However, important differences emerge in the comparison that seeks to understand the historic context in which each artist worked. Though life still flourishes, Whaley’s compositions express the decay and threat to contemporary existence unanticipated by O’Keeffe whose landscapes and still lifes are radiant tributes to the transcendence of nature.