Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Nellie Mae Rowe, Vinings, Georgia

Nellie Mae Rowe stands outside her home in a polka dot blouse beside a doll wearing a striped top hat that says “PEACE”, vintage librarian glasses, and a corsage.

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Object Details


Melinda Blauvelt, American, born 1949


1971, printed 2021


Gelatin silver print


Framed/Mounted: 23 1/4 x 29 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches (59.1 cm x 74.3 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


A connection to nature dominated Rowe’s childhood, as the type of task she was assigned on the farm was dictated by seasons and weather. She reclaimed that connection by tending to the garden of her Playhouse, which was filled with flowering plants like the mulberry tree that she enjoys in this drawing. After 1969, the completion of I-285 drastically changed her surroundings. The space that she made for nature to grow densely, as seen in the photograph by Melinda Blauvelt, was all the more meaningful against the backdrop of the rapidly gentrifying suburb where she lived.