The red and yellow colors reflect the Spanish influence on Santa Fe in 1540. The center of the flag is an ancient symbol of the Zia, a Native American people from that area who believed that the "Great Giver" bestowed gifts in groups of four. The four sets of four rays represent: 1) Direction (north, east, south and west); 2) the year (spring, summer, fall, winter); the day (sunrise, noon, evening, and night); and the life cycle (childhood, youth, adult and old age). All of these gifts are bound together in an endless circle of love.
O'Keeffe wasn't born in New Mexico, but that is where she came alive. In 1929, at the age of 42, she visited the area and was enamored with the beauty of the desert. She built a ranch in a remote part of the land, a very desolate place, and spent her summers there painting animal skulls and bones as well as the various undulating shapes and striated colors of the desert. Like her bold flowers before, these desert images she painted called forth deep emotional reactions from admirers and detractors alike. The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe gives an in-depth view into the artist's life and work.