A Nose? A Platypus? A Sack of Flour?

Last year the education department introduced over 19,000 students to the Carter’s permanent collection through our school tours program. The Gallery Teachers use an inquiry-based style of teaching which often includes asking students for their initial observations when discussing a specific work of art. One of our favorite paintings to use with student groups is by Georgia O’Keeffe.

We’ve found that the easiest and best way to approach this work of art with students is simply by asking them “What do you think this is?” or “What are you looking at?” We have compiled a list of the most interesting, most creative, and funniest responses below.
A nose
A platypus
An elephant
Sacks of flour
A shoebox
A couch
A bunch of pillows
Brown grocery bags
Couch cushion forts
An easel
The back of a picture frame
A sand castle
George Washington’s teeth
Secret doors
A fort
A recliner
Peach Jell-O
A pulpit
A trashcan with a garbage bag coming out of it

Now, it’s your turn”¦what do you see when you look at this painting?

Georgia O’Keeffe, Ranchos Church, New Mexico, 1930/31, oil on canvas, ©Amon Carter Museum.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Ranchos Church, New Mexico, 1930/31, oil on canvas, ©Amon Carter Museum.


Good guesses! It does look kind of like a couch cushion fort.

It looks like someone sitting with their knees pulled up on an over-sized chair.

I think it looks like an ancient temple on a beach somewhere...

I love those guesses, particularly the Peach Jello. I see melting rocks but the sky is blue and cool so what is melting the rocks? Humm.

A skate park for cavemen?

A building with muffin tops?

sand castle would be my initial response as well.

Looks like an ancient monument worn down by time.

I use to construct buildings out of refrigerator boxes when I was a kid. This painting totally reminds me of one of my childhood architecture projects.

It looks like an eroded sand castle to me.

It looks like the Pillsbury Dough Boy's Living Room

I am loving all of these responses! Very creative! It makes me think we should start using the inquiry-based method with adults in the galleries too. It's amazing how differently people view this work of art. Thanks for using your imaginations.--sk

PS: This is the rear view of an eighteenth-century missionary church of St. Francis of Assisi near Taos, New Mexico. Georgia O'Keeffe painted this church on numerous occasions.

And all this time I thought it was a bunch of sack lunches!

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