Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Untitled (Male Figure with Haint)

Crayon drawing of a standing, orange-colored figure at right, wearing a blue outfit and looking at a purple and green ghost that resembles a peacock at left.

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Object Details


Nellie Mae Rowe, American, 1900–1982


before 1978


Crayon and pencil on folder divider


Support/Overall: 11 x 8 1/2 inches (27.9 cm x 21.6 cm) Framed/Mounted: 21 1/4 x 17 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches (54 cm x 43.8 cm x 3.2 cm)


Gift of Judith Alexander

Accession #


Image Copyright

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


The figure on the left in this drawing is a “haint,” or haunt, a Gullah dialect word for a type of evil spirit or being. Tales of haints flourished in the Gullah culture of the South Carolina Lowcountry but are also found in other regions of the South. “Haint blue” is a pale, green-tinted shade of blue meant to mimic the appearance of sky or water and often painted on the ceilings and around doors and windows on Southern houses to ward off these unfriendly spirits. The male figure in this composition sports a boastful expression next to a paradoxically blue haint with crazed eyes, indicating that the man has somehow outsmarted the trickster spirit.