Georgia O'Keeffe was born on November 18, 1887 outside of Sun Prairie, WI. In 1903 her family relocated to Virginia. Georgia continued to take private art lessons which she had begun in Wisconsin. Education for women was strongly encouraged in her family, and she received full support in her artistic studies. Upon graduation from high school, Georgia attended the Art Institute of Chicago. The following year, she acquired typhoid fever, and after overcoming it, she enrolled at the Art Student League in New York City during 1907.
While at the League, she became discouraged with her work. Another student predicted that Georgia would eventually end up as a painting instructor at a girls' school. When classes started back up in the fall of 1908, Georgia decided not to return, and instead took a position as a commercial artist in Chicago for a year. The year would pass, and Georgia wouldn't paint. It wasn't until she moved back to join her family in Williamsburg, Virginia that she would again pick up a brush, after enrolling in a nearby college.
Georgia had been writing to Anita Pollitzer, a classmate from the Art Student League since the beginning of summer, 1915. They were developing a fast friendship through their letters, sharing everyday life, and everything they were learning about art. In December of that year, Georgia sent some of her drawing to Anita, with explicit instructions that they were for her eyes only. Anita was instantly overwhelmed with the drawings, and took them to Alfred Stieglitz, a leader in the modern art movement in the United States on New Year's Eve. The drawings took his breath away, and he was only able to exclaim, "At last, a woman on paper! Will you tell her this is the purest, most sincere work that has entered 291 in a long while."
An exhibition of Georgia's drawings and sketches was held at 291, in April 1917. This was her first solo show. After the show Stieglitz closed the studio due to financial difficulties, but felt that he had accomplished much, by presenting Georgia O'Keeffe and her art to the world.