Margaret “Maggie” OKeefe [SCH NRA 2019] : Study for architecture and art, 2021.


SAL record control number: 111514 ;

Record level: Item ;

Record type: Movable work ;


Work title: Study for architecture and art [from the artist]  ;

Alternate work titles:
2021 : Study for architecture and art  [from the artist]  ;

Work date: 2021  [from artist] ;

Work creator: Margaret “Maggie” OKeefe [SCH NRA 2019] ;

Work medium: Oil ;
Work dimensions: ? x ? inches [framed] ;

Inscribed / signed front: 


SAL category: Oil ;
SAL sub-category: Allegory ;

Archives of American Art subjects:

Description of work:
My panels feature the allegorical theme of learning with each panel focusing on specific disciplines. The left panel represents architecture and art. The right panel represents science and literature.

The man on the left is an architect sketching out plans and the child is an artist holding a palette, brushes, and wearing a backpack. On the right side, the woman is holding astronomy instruments, an armillary sphere and a compass. The older man reads a book. I am representing all generations as well as several time periods coexisting in one space. 

As the doors open, these four figures exit the library after their study, entering into a landscape with a field of flowers, a city in the distance, and overlapping mountains. 

I hope this piece inspires those visiting the Salmagundi library to create and study the arts. The doors symbolize how the space of a library is a place of learning, inspiration, and admiration. All these disciplines are different and important with the collective spirit of education. Although one is in a library they can be transported to other places by being inside such a cultivating place.

Sitting in a library can take you back years and also move you forward into the future. The classical arches, domed rotunda, owl and raven represent knowledge and classical history. I have included a palette to coincide with the palette collection inside the library as well as a landscape that opens doors out of the city library. The doors represent a window to another location.

My painting features a modern child and historical figures. The panel on the left depicts a bright day and the one on the right is of the evening with the moon and stars. It describes the day to night studies we may have, as we spend hours on end reading books or working on projects. Also the day to night motif is symbolic of our life; a young child walking on the left panel and a wise man on the right panel. 

Arch symbolism and decoration: The arch is an homage to the Washington Square Park arch, our neighbor to the south. I included two Corinthian columns and Greco-Roman, Chinese and Persian influences in the decorations on the upper corners. There are turtles on both sides of the arch; lotus flowers along the column representing knowledge; and a sphinx, a symbol of riddles and the stages of life. 

Behind the figures, there is a field of irises, the flower of wisdom and knowledge. The flowers converge to a vanishing point to create the illusion of depth. As one looks at the doors they see four figures all together engaging in their discipline and when the doors open, they leave to face what is next in the world.

Four figures: The elderly man and his bench refer to the busts inside the library. He is dressed in the attire of someone living in the late 1800s. I drew inspiration from this era from the founding father of the Salmagundi Club, Jonathan Scott Hartley as well as one of my painting heroes from the American Renaissance, Edwin Blashfield. My painting honors those legends and legacies in art, illustration, and innovation in the past.

The female scientist is inspired by Athena and Minerva, goddesses of knowledge and art. She wears a crown of olive tree leaves and has her sacred owl with her.

The male figure is inspired by Odin the Norse god and his bird, a raven, representing  wisdom. 

The child is of modern day and represents the eagerness to learn.

2021 Margaret “Maggie” OKeefe [SCH NRA 2019], the artist .

Exhibition history:
2021 SCNY Allegory today : the library commission November 8-19.

References / citations:



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Record birth date:
November 4, 2021

Last updated: November 4, 2021 at 10:15 am