Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Untitled (Nellie Mae and Joe Looking into Heaven)

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Object Details


Nellie Mae Rowe, American, 1900–1982




Crayon, colored pencil, and pencil on paper


18 x 24 inches


Bequest of Dr. Margaret Sommerville and Jim Sommerville

Accession #


Image Copyright

© Estate of Nellie Mae Rowe/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.


Rowe depicts herself seated in a red chair with her nephew, Joe Brown Sr., who was the son of her older sister Minerva. Rowe settled in Vinings after Brown had begun to make a life there, and when her first husband died, she stayed with Brown and his family until she remarried. She pays tribute to their lifelong friendship through the warm colors of this work, which reflect the glow of a setting sun. A glimpse of heaven emanates from the western corner of the sky, beckoning with its flowering field and rising phoenix, a symbol of spiritual rebirth.