Skip to Main Content

Judy Dillin with her quilt

Photo by Thomas Moon.

I am not sure when I first became aware of Georgia O'Keeffe. The fact that I have drawn, photographed, and painted clouds and landscapes since I was a kid—and the fact that I have also been enamored of the Southwest since I was a kid—may have segued into my love for O'Keeffe. I am almost seventy years old now, and I really cannot remember when O'Keeffe has not been a part of my being.

Variations on a Theme Quilt

Variations on a Theme: O'Keeffe's Pedernal, May 2018. Original design by Judy Dillin. Composed of cotton fabric and pieced, appliquéd, and quilted by machine by the artuist. 25 3/4" x 35".

I do know that O'Keeffe greatly impacted my college years (I have a BA in studio art) during the late 1960s/early 1970s. College is when I became seriously interested in O'Keeffe as a person—her art and life, and her love for the Southwest. She was still painting in New Mexico when I was taking art courses in college, and this was still several years before the first comprehensive publication of her work— Viking Press' Georgia O'Keeffe, 1976. The more I read about her and the more I studied her art, the more I liked her. I even contemplated, for a time, moving to the Southwest to pursue a "life of art." This did not happen. I have lived the majority of my life in California, having worked thirty-seven years for the J. Paul Getty Museum and Trust, but I have certainly traveled extensively throughout the Southwest over the years, including, of course, the "land of O'Keeffe."

I am still actively in pursuit of the arts. But instead of becoming the kind of artist O'Keeffe was—to paint with oils and watercolors—I paint with fabric. I am what is known in the world of quilting as an "art quilter." I do not create quilts for the bedroom. Instead I create art made of fabric that one can hang on a wall. And O'Keeffe is still very much with me as I do my art. I tend to combine bright, pure colors (like O'Keeffe, I don't much care for a dismal-colored palette) into fairly simple improvisational designs. Most of my current work is abstract. However, O'Keeffe's favorite Pedernal mesa will pop up in my work from time to time. I have done many studies of the Pedernal in fabric, because I, like O'Keeffe, am enamored of that mesa. My pieces are usually small studies—that I call "quilt sketches"—and rarely measure more than twenty-five inches square, and many are much smaller.

When I finally decided to create a living trust several years ago, it was an easy decision to leave a goodly part of my estate to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. I have to admit that I was very excited when I realized that I could actually do this. O'Keeffe has been a positive influence in my life in many ways and for many, many years. She has been like a fantastic encouraging sister to me, and it makes me very happy that I can contribute to her continuing legacy by way of my estate.

Judy Dillin
Ventura, CA
March 21, 2018

Learn more about how you, like Judy, can make the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum a part of your legacy. Contact Jennifer Pedneau at [email protected] or 505.946.1035 to get started.