Explore CollectionsNellie Mae Rowe

Nellie Mae Rowe

Nellie Mae Rowe (American, 1900–1982), Untitled (Nellie Riding Chicken), 1980, crayon and pencil on paper, gift of Judith Alexander, 2003.211.

Nellie Mae Rowe (American, 1900–1982) lived on Paces Ferry Road in Vinings, Georgia, and welcomed visitors to “Nellie’s Playhouse,” which one guest called a “wonder of the land.” Rowe decorated her house with found-object installations, handmade dolls, chewing-gum sculptures, and hundreds of drawings, which she displayed in books, lined up on ledges, and hung cheek to jowl on walls. Thanks to a major gift from Judith Alexander, the High offers the largest public collection of Rowe’s artwork. In 2021, this collection became the basis for the critically acclaimed traveling retrospective Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe and the Museum’s first publication on its LINK platform.

Katherine “Katie” Jentleson

Katherine Jentleson

Senior Curator of American Art and
Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art