Open Site Navigation

From solo exhibition: Daughters of Uranium, 2019-2020

 

Letter, Georgia O’Keeffe to Alfred Stieglitz, August 7, 1945 | Inkjet prints on vellum, 8.5” x 11” (x4)

[Alfred Stieglitz / Georgia O'Keeffe Archive, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University]

New York Times, August 7, 1945 | Inkjet print on archival paper, 24” x 36”

[New York Times Archives]

On August 7, 1945, the New York Times reported the American bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, with the headline, “First Atomic Bomb Dropped on Japan: Missile is Equal to 20,000 tons of TNT; Truman Warns Foe of a ‘Rain of Ruin’.” It also reported that atomic bombs were made in three hidden cities, and it confirmed what many locals suspected, that a secret "new bomb" test (Trinity) had occurred in the desert of New Mexico a few weeks earlier.

 

On August 7, 1945, American painter, Georgia O’Keeffe, read the New York Times while sitting in her kitchen at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico. In a letter penned the same day to her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, O’Keeffe commented on the new bomb, ‘’you know that thing was being made on a mountain some 60 miles from here – and about 2 weeks ago – early in the morning when I was first awake – felt my house shake – I suppose it was the bomb.”

O’Keeffe is referring to the Manhattan Project’s Trinity test that took place at the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range, New Mexico,  on July 16, 1945, at 05:29:45 Mountain War Time. Trinity, the world’s first atomic bomb detonation, is recognized as a significant radiological marker, ushering in the nuclear age. In her letter, Georgia O’Keeffe’s body becomes a register for this precise historical moment.

FARAWAY, NEARBY

MARY KAVANAGH   © 2023 Mary Kavanagh