Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Nellie Mae Rowe, Vinings, Georgia

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Object Details


Melinda Blauvelt, American, born 1949


1971, printed 2021


Gelatin silver print


21 ¾ x 14 5/8 inches


Gift of the artist

Accession #



In this stunning portrait, Melinda Blauvelt captured the extraordinary air that Rowe seemed to carry with her at the Playhouse. Rowe pressed bottle caps into the ground, creating the effect of shiny penny tile near the threshold of her gate, which she wove with old straps and cords, a tribute, perhaps, to her father, who was a talented basket maker. Blauvelt was among the first photographers to make Rowe her subject, and her portraits were used in the groundbreaking 1982 exhibition Black Folk Art in America, 1930–1980, discussed in the final gallery.