In the fall of 1915, O'Keeffe taught art at a teachers college in Columbia, South Carolina. In her free time she experimented with charcoal and drew abstract shapes, struggling to find her own style. These early works represented her dreams and visions. She mailed them to her Columbia classmate and good friend Anita Pollitzer, who showed the works to Stieglitz. He was impressed, later exhibiting them at his gallery without O'Keeffe's knowledge or permission. Embarrassed, she demanded that he end the exhibition, to no avail. The public was shocked by what it perceived as the frank sexuality of her shapes; throughout her life, she denied the Freudian symbolism that others saw in her art.

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