Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe

 

Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe

 

Untitled (The Hand)


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Object Details


Artist/Maker

Nellie Mae Rowe, American, 1900–1982

Date

1978–1982

Medium

Crayon and pencil on paper

Dimensions

18 x 24 inches

Credit

Gift of Harvie and Charles Abney

Accession #

2021.37

Image Copyright

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

Description

There is a popular belief in some African American communities that dreams of fish precede announcements of pregnancy. The animal’s additional religious connotations of abundance and creation suggest that Rowe’s numerous drawings of fish may have been related to her unfulfilled wish for children. In Untitled (Fish), a large fish is surrounded by flowers budding with breast-like shapes and birds that have a penile appearance. Similarly erotic forms can be found in Untitled (The Hand), along with a rooster, painted a shocking crimson and royal blue, that might also have a coded sexual meaning.