So O’Keeffe set off across Hawaii, spending just over two months between the various islands. On Maui, in the isolated town of Hana, she met the Jennings family. Willis Jennings, who managed the local sugar plantation, enlisted his 12-year-old daughter Patricia to show the artist around.
Now in her eighties, Patricia recalls O’Keeffe being described as “difficult.” But during the 10 days the pair spent together, exploring an abandoned rubber plantation or the Seven Pools of ‘Ohe’o Gulch, the intimidating artist began to soften. Years later, O’Keeffe would write Patricia a letter recalling their time together: “Of course I will always remember you as a little girl—a very lovely little girl—in a sort of dream world.”
O’Keeffe also spent hours conversing with the personable Mr. Jennings, noting in a letter to Stieglitz: “By the time I leave the islands I am going to know so much more about sugar than I do about pineapples that is funny—”
In her accounts of the trip, she describes eating raw fish for the first time and donning straw sandals. She was mesmerized by Hawaii’s black cliff faces, but was unnerved by its active volcanoes with their steam issuing straight from the ground.