Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Please Let Me Be

A front-facing figure drawn with pencil and blue marker against a white background with blue and black borders; “boy” and “please let me be” written in marker.

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Object Details


Nellie Mae Rowe, American, 1900–1982




Marker and pencil on mounted book page


9 1/2 x 7 1/4 inches


Gift of Judith Alexander

Accession #


Image Copyright

© Estate of Nellie Mae Rowe/High Museum of Art, Atlanta.


Rowe said she drew a little here and there before her employers, the Smiths, were both deceased, and this work dates from that early period. The sorrowful blue figure at the picture’s center and his plea for mercy may be a tribute to her father, who passed away in 1945. Her second husband, Henry Rowe, died the following year and suffered from what may have been a form of dementia, so the work could also be an empathetic message for him.