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The Geology of Georgia O’Keeffe’s New Mexico

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Monday, February 28, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1NV112
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$25 - Member
$30 - Non-Member
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Chimney Rock at Ghost Ranch (Photo: Kirt Kempter)

Join New Mexico geologist Kirt Kempter for an exploration of the dramatic landscapes that captivated Georgia O’Keeffe. The artist had northern New Mexico homes in Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch, separated by just 20 miles but worlds apart from a geologic perspective. 

O’Keeffe’s home at Ghost Ranch was situated on the edge of the scenic Colorado Plateau, while the Abiquiu site was in the Rio Grande rift, a geologic tear in the crust of New Mexico. Her paintings depict rocks and landforms shaped by erosion, including her favorite mountain, Cerro Pedernal, and a canyon she called the “White Place.” 

The geologic story of the area spans more than 300 million years and includes rock layers from ancient rivers, oceans, and sand dunes. The modern landscape of northern New Mexico is a result of widespread erosion during the Ice Age, as the Rio Chama and its tributaries relentlessly carved into the multicolored rock strata in the region that O’Keeffe called home.

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Inside Science

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.