Georgia on Their Minds

Six art and design students from Brenau University recently spent spring break at the historic Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico, the summer home of iconic artist Georgia O’Keeffe for more than 40 years and the inspiration for many of her paintings.

The 21,000-acre ranch, which has been an education center and retreat since 1955, offers year-round workshops and classes on topics such as art, music, writing and science, as well as outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding, kayaking and canoeing.

The weeklong trip was a huge success, according to Claudia Wilburn, Art & Design Department chair and director of Brenau’s Center for the Arts & Design.

“We painted and photographed the same mountains as Georgia O’Keeffe and hiked trails forged by Native Americans,” Wilburn says. “The students were exposed to
different cultures and folklore and immersed themselves in sublime landscapes.”

It was those very landscapes — with their red rock canyons, sprawling panoramas and vivid skies — that kept O’Keeffe and other artists, such as photographer and
environmentalist Ansel Adams, coming back to Ghost Ranch.

“I wish you could see what I see out the window,” O’Keeffe wrote of her Abiquiu view in a 1942 letter to friend and fellow painter Arthur Dove. “The earth pink and yellow cliffs to the north — the full pale moon about to go down in an early morning lavender sky … pink and purple hills in front and the scrubby fine dull green cedars — and a feeling of much space.”

“It is a very beautiful world.”

Brenau studio art major Jennifer Benitez sets up an easel at Ghost Ranch, the former summer home of artist Georgia O’Keeffe in Abiquiu, New Mexico. (Photo by Ben Truesdale)

Photographs by Hope Vigil-Shuck

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