Abstract: Mariah Vaughn

I want to shed light on the way Georgia O’Keeffe lived and interacted with others in her old age. O’Keeffe was a famous and successful artist for most of her career, unlike so many artists whose work becomes famous posthumously. This obviously changed the way she lived within the art world and the world around her. She was able to control her artworks’ market, and she did so with exactitude. She lived a relatively solitary life in her old age, employing only three people at a time to help manage her estate and assist her in daily living.

I have the extraordinary opportunity to contribute to a better understanding of O’Keeffe in her art and personal life via her ex-caretaker: my uncle Peter Sanderson. He lived with O’Keeffe and worked for her for about a year and a half in the 1970s. Every evening, they sat together and spent hours talking about their days and lives. He obviously has a perspective of O’Keeffe that only a few other people in the world have ever had. I want to interview him extensively, over the course of a week, starting generally and getting more specific with each interview period.

Firstly, I plan on travelling to Santa Monica, California, where Mr. Sanderson lives. I will stay there for seven days including travel time to/from. I plan on sitting down with Mr. Sanderson 5 times. I will have a microphone and record our interview and conversations each time.

After interviewing my uncle in Santa Monica, I want to travel to Santa Fe, New Mexico and go to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and research center. By this time I will have clearer thesis— there I will use the museum’s archives and resources as part of my research. If I have the funds, I would also like to rent a car and drive to Ghost Ranch where I can see O’Keeffe’s home and better understand my uncle’s work with her and the estate itself. Finally, I will return to Williamsburg, where I am doing summer research in Linguistics part-time. I will spend the rest of the summer compiling my research into an article for publication.