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


Framed/Mounted: 29 1/4 x 23 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches (74.3 cm x 59.1 cm x 3.2 cm) Image/Sight: 21 3/4 x 14 5/8 inches (55.2 cm x 37.1 cm)


Gift of the artist

Accession #


Image Copyright

© Melinda Blauvelt


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 toward the end of the exhibition.