Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Real Girl

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Object Details


Nellie Mae Rowe, American, 1900–1982




Color photograph, crayon, pen, and pencil on cardboard


14 x 11 inches


Gift of Judith Alexander

Accession #


Image Copyright

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


Real Girl is one of at least a dozen drawings in which Rowe embedded a picture of herself, embracing various visible dimensions of her identity and their intersections. As she told one reporter in 1979, “I am black and I love my blackness.” Here, she has placed her signature at the literal heart of her composition under an image of herself in front of her home holding a doll. She asserts that she is a “real girl” and uses traditionally feminine forms like the color bright pink, lacy edges, flowers, and the heart arabesque to complete this valentine to herself.