Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe


Untitled (Really Free!)

Book page with black, plain typing: “Really Free!” in bold font in upper right, and “The Bible Society” in smaller font at lower right; “Mrs. Nellie M” written cursive at top in blue marker and pink colored pencil, large “R” and small “owe” drawn below.

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Object Details


Nellie Mae Rowe, American, 1900–1982




Marker and crayon on book page


Image/Sight: 7 1/2 x 5 inches (19.1 cm x 12.7 cm) Framed/Mounted: 18 1/4 x 15 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches (46.4 cm x 38.7 cm x 3.2 cm)


Gift of Judith Alexander

Accession #


Image Copyright

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


Rowe was a deeply spiritual person who believed that God had bestowed her with artistic abilities, saying, “This the talent that he gave me and I have to use it.” She hung onto the frontispiece of Really Free!, a pamphlet reproducing the Gospel according to John and printed by the Bible Society in 1967, transforming it with her elegant signature. The way that she envelopes the phrase “Really Free!” with her name makes this relatively simple work, which inspired the title of this exhibition, a bold statement about how she expressed her personal freedom through art in the final years of her life.