Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Untitled (Atlanta’s Missing Children, Figure with Headdress)

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Object Details


Nellie Mae Rowe, American, 1900–1982




Crayon, gouache, pen, and pencil on paper


24 x 28 inches


Gift of Judith Alexander

Accession #


Image Copyright

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


Rowe’s connection with childhood and her longing for children of her own might have played a role in her decision to depict the Atlanta Child Murders—a series of abductions and violent attacks of nearly thirty people (most of them Black children or adolescents) that took place between 1979 and 1981 in Atlanta. As opposed to visually depicting these murders, Rowe addressed the violence in code, using animals and indeterminate vignettes. The figure in the center of the drawing menacingly pulling back a trench-coat-like cape like a flasher may be a more direct reference to the sexual abuse that many of the victims suffered.