Fascinated by spirituality and the ecclesiastical architecture of the region, O’Keeffe painted the Church of Santo Ni±o, located in the town of Cebolla, 30 miles north of her home. Moved by the structure’s sagging, sun-bleached walls and rusted tin roof, she wrote, “The county that I live in is one of the poorest in the United States and the life of the people is difficult . . . So I painted the Cebolla church, which is so typical of that difficult life.”
Literally formed out of the earth, the adobe church seems to erase the boundary between earth and architecture, the natural and the manmade. In merging the land and the building and reducing both to elemental shapes, O’Keeffe testifies to the naturalness of abstraction.