Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Untitled (Nellie Riding Chicken)

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Object Details


Nellie Mae Rowe, American, 1900–1982




Crayon and pencil on paper


18 1/2 x 24 1/2 inches


Gift of Judith Alexander

Accession #


Image Copyright

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


Wearing green, a signature color in her wardrobe, Rowe rides a chicken toward a form that exemplifies how she married human, plant, and animal life in her work. Its facial features comprise the components of a tree: roots and low limbs form its beard and mustache, while budding branches create its eyes and hair. This peculiar face rests on a neck stacked with Star Trek–reminiscent chevrons, lending it an extraterrestrial air that befits Rowe’s belief in her drawings as emissaries of an unknown future—“things that ain’t been seen” or “something that ain’t been born yet,” as she put it.