Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe
On View January 27, 2023 - May 1, 2023
Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe is the first major presentation of Nellie Mae Rowe’s works in more than 20 years – the first time this artist has had a significant exhibition at the Hunter Museum – and the first-ever exhibition to consider Rowe’s practice as a radical act of self-expression and liberation in the post-civil rights-era South.
This vivid exhibition chronicles the life and work of Nellie Mae Rowe (1900-1982) through her imaginative works on paper, sculptures made from found and experimental materials, and an artful examination of her “Playhouse” – the striking environment Rowe created in her home and yard on a busy thoroughfare just outside of Atlanta. Really Free features the colorful, and at times simple, sketches Rowe made on found materials. Other sections of the exhibition explore themes in Rowe’s work such as depictions of women, her childhood, images of her garden, and her experimentation with materials, including recycling cast-offs to make handmade dolls. The exhibition concludes with a focus on her career breakthrough and ruminations on death and the afterlife.
Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.
Support for this exhibition and publication is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Major funding for this exhibition and publication is provided by Judith Alexander and Henry Alexander.
Generous support for the national tour is provided by Art Bridges, Inc.
The exhibition is curated by Dr. Katherine Jentleson, Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta.
Local exhibition support generously provided by:
Image Header: Nellie Mae Rowe (American, 1900–1982), Untitled (At Night Things Come to Me), 1980, crayon and pencil on paper, 18 x 24 inches, High Museum of Art, gift of Judith Alexander, 2003.226. © 2023Estate of Nellie Mae Rowe/High Museum of Art, Atlanta.