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Nellie Mae Rowe, American, 1900–1982
Color photograph, crayon, pencil, pen, and colored pencil on cardboard
20 x 30 1/8 inches
Promised gift of Lucinda W. Bunnen
(c) Estate of Nellie Mae Rowe/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Rowe was rarely open about political meaning in her work, but she described this piece as a tribute to voting, a right that would not be guaranteed to her until 1965. The vignettes that surround the work’s central hand-colored photograph include a figure of Coretta Scott King to the left of Rowe’s outstretched praise hand and voters lined up behind her signature, bowing their heads and shedding tears. To the right is the head of a politician whose dubious grin reveals Rowe’s distrust of elected officials and her ambivalence about voting, especially given the threat of voter suppression and retaliatory violence she faced.