REALLY FREE: THE RADICAL ART OF NELLIE MAE ROWE
Hunter Museum of American Art / 10 Bluff View January 27, 2023 - May 1, 2023
Nellie Mae Rowe
Really Free is the first major presentation of Nellie Mae Rowe’s works in more than 20 years – the first time this artist has had a significant exhibition at the Hunter Museum – and the first-ever exhibition to consider Rowe’s practice as a radical act of self-expression and liberation in the post-civil rights-era South.
This vivid exhibition chronicles the life and work of Nellie Mae Rowe (1900-1982) through her imaginative works on paper, sculptures made from found and experimental materials, and an artful examination of her “Playhouse” – the striking environment Rowe created in her home and yard on a busy thoroughfare just outside of Atlanta. Really Free features the colorful, and at times simple, sketches Rowe made on found materials. Other sections of the exhibition explore themes in Rowe’s work such as depictions of women, her childhood, images of her garden, and her experimentation with materials, including recycling cast-offs to make handmade dolls. The exhibition concludes with a focus on her career breakthrough and ruminations on death and the afterlife.