Speaker: Sarah Rovang 

Georgia O’Keeffe’s propensity for painting scenes inspired by her homes or the views afforded from them has been well documented. This paper moves beyond the figurative inspiration drawn from the houses to examine the underlying spatial and architectural features that O’Keeffe was responding to, both in the paintings that overtly depict her homes, and a much broader range of creative output. I explore the way in which O’Keeffe’s homes were integral to the artist’s notion of “thinking on a wall”—the conception of her artworks as spatialized objects occupying architectural interiors. In this mode of artistic production, the wall space of the home became a proxy for that of the gallery or museum walls where her work would meet the public eye. This paper charts the development of this conceptual device throughout the artist’s career, culminating in the design, construction, and ongoing renovation of her house and studio at Abiquiu. Highlighting O’Keeffe’s sitting room window and her Patio Door series, I examine how, in addition to using to using her walls as a gallery space, the artist engaged with textural, haptic, and visceral qualities of her home to develop the rich and undervalued creative innovations of her late career. 


Sarah Rovang is an architectural historian based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As a Program Officer at the Thoma Foundation, she oversees grant-making initiatives and research related to rural arts and education. Born and raised in New Mexico, she holds a Ph.D. in the History of Art and Architecture from Brown University. Before joining the Thoma Foundation, she taught architectural history at the University of Michigan, traveled around the world as the Society of Architectural Historians’ H. Allen Brooks Traveling Fellow, and was a Research Fellow at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.