Review by C.J. Bunce
The latest graphic novel in publisher SelfMadeHero’s Art Masters series is a lovely–and lovingly created-tribute to artist Georgia O’Keeffe, full of inspiring passages, thoughts, and achievements. Writer and artist María Herreros goes right to the source for her inspiration, re-creating not O’Keeffe’s famous artworks from her 98 years, but selecting passages she wrote to friends in letters. Any artist, creator, or maker, will find bits of themselves in O’Keeffe’s thoughts as she describes her preferences, her influences, and her self-doubt about her creative process and ideas.
Unlike most books about O’Keeffe, this is not a showcase of her painting and sculptures and it does not include any of her modeling photographs taken of her that she also was known for. Herreros illustrates the book in an impressionistic style, using her interpretations of O’Keeffe’s thoughts in her letters to express visually what O’Keeffe may have been thinking throughout her adult life.
Readers and fans of the artist will discover in a new way how O’Keeffe expressed to friends her own struggle with impostor syndrome long before she became the confident and content creator she is most known for.
How did her relationships figure into her creative process and resulting works? What might be the origin of the solitude exhibited in many of her works? How did she feel about the New York City art scene, and how did it have an impact on one of her most significant personal relationships? All these questions are wrestled with in words and art in this book.
This is not a comprehensive look at the artist, but something more than the encyclopedia or Wikipedia listing about key parts of her life, delivered in a more inspiring way. Most interesting is the format itself and Herreros’ personal choices in selecting passages from some 5,000 letters the artist left behind. (Note: some of the photos above are from the Spanish edition).