Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe

 

Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe

 

Untitled (Woman with Red Fish)


Navy blue bordered drawing of bright red fish with split tail and curved top fin, a tiny blue bird in upper left and snake with human head in bottom right.

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Object Details


Artist/Maker

Nellie Mae Rowe, American, 1900–1982

Date

before 1978

Medium

Crayon and pencil on paper

Dimensions

18 x 24 inches

Credit

Gift of Andy Nasisse for the Nasisse Collection

Accession #

1993.60

Description

A frequent character in Nellie Mae Rowe’s art is a large, bright fish. As a devout Christian, Rowe often illustrated her lifelong walk with the Lord and considered art making an act of prayer. Fish often symbolize the Christian faith as well as fertility and female sexuality. In this drawing of a fish in a fantastical sea, a female figure swims below at a distance, exemplifying reverence. Rowe was never able to have children, so this drawing may also serve as a reference to her reproductive struggles.