Untitled (Judith Alexander Doll)
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“I bet I wasn’t ten years old when I made my first doll,” Nellie Mae Rowe once said. “Sometimes when I ought to have been in the fields, I’d hide and go make dolls. I’d take up all the dirty clothes, tie them up, pack their heads full of soft stockings, and make eyes for them. I made some to look like people.” The year before she died, Rowe created this affectionate portrait of her close friend and art dealer, Judith Alexander. After meeting Rowe in the late 1970s, Alexander increased her gallery’s focus on self-taught artists. Today there are dozens of galleries all over the world that specialize in self-taught artists, but the Alexander Gallery was one of the first. In 2003, Alexander’s foundation donated more than 130 works by Rowe to the High Museum.