Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe | Hunter Museum of American Art 7.0.33-0+deb9u12

Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe

On View January 27, 2023 - May 1, 2023

Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe 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. 


Exhibition-Related Programs:

Throwback Thursday | Thursday, February 2nd, 4-8PM

Sunday Studio | Sunday, February 12, 2-4PM

A Sense of Place: Memories of Chattanooga | Thursday, February 16, 6-7:30PM

Throwback Thursday | Thursday, March 2, 4-8PM

Art + Issues: Representing and Healing Communities with Marie Mott | Thursday, March 2, 6-7PM

Family Fun Day | Sunday, March 12, 2-4PM

A Sense of Place: Memories of Chattanooga | Thursday, March 30, 6-7:30PM

BP@TH | Monday, April 3, 5:30-7:30PM

Throwback Thursday |Thursday, April 6, 4-8PM

Sunday Studio | Sunday, April 9, 2-4PM

Create & Sip: Folk Art Flora | Thursday, April 13, 6-7:30PM

Create & Sip: Doll Making | Thursday, April 20, 6-7:30PM

Art Wise: Curator Katherine Jentleson | Sunday, April 23, 1:30-2:30PM


Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.



Support for this exhibition and publication is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.  Major funding for this exhibition and publication is provided by Judith Alexander and Henry Alexander.




Generous support for the national tour is provided by Art Bridges, Inc. 



The exhibition is curated by Dr. Katherine Jentleson, Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta. 


Local exhibition support generously provided by:




This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.




Marketing support provided by a grant from:





Image Header: Nellie Mae Rowe (American, 1900–1982), Untitled (At Night Things Come to Me), 1980, crayon and pencil on paper, 18 x 24 inches, High Museum of Art, gift of Judith Alexander, 2003.226. © 2023Estate of Nellie Mae Rowe/High Museum of Art, Atlanta.


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- Families who attend our “Family Fun Days” offered three times a year
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