September 3, 2021–January 9, 2022
During the last decade and a half of her life, Nellie Mae Rowe (1900–1982) lived on a busy thoroughfare in Vinings and
welcomed visitors to her “Playhouse,” which she decorated with found-object installations, handmade dolls, chewing-gum sculptures, and hundreds of drawings. Based on the High’s leading collection of Rowe’s art, this exhibition of about seventy works is the first to consider her practice as a radical act of self-expression and liberation in the South after the civil rights movement. Rowe created her first works as a child in rural Fayetteville, Georgia, but only found the time and space to reclaim her artistic practice in the late 1960s following the deaths of her second husband and her longtime employer.
As the first major exhibition on Rowe in more than twenty years, Really Free will offer an unprecedented view of how she cultivated her drawing practice late in life, starting with colorful, at times simple sketches on found materials in the 1960s and moving toward her most celebrated, highly complex compositions on paper of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Through photographs and scenes from an experimental documentary on her life, which includes an artful reconstruction of her Playhouse, visitors will experience the lively art environment Rowe created in and outside of her home.
Exhibition catalogue available for purchase at the Museum Shop and at museumshop.high.org. Members receive 10% off Shop purchases.
Curatorial Exhibition Introduction: Gatecrashers: The Rise of the Self-Taught Artist in America and Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe
Thursday, August 19, 6 p.m., Zoom
Join Katherine Jentleson as she introduces the High’s newest Folk and Self-Taught Art exhibitions, Gatecrashers and Really Free. Jentleson, the High’s Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art, will give an overview of both exhibitions and talk about her recently published catalogues. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about these two groundbreaking exhibitions on view at the High!
The Power of the “Playhouse”
Thursday, September 23, 6 p.m., Zoom
Nellie Mae Rowe’s famed home that served as an art environment for guests to visit may no longer exist, but its legacy lives on through this exhibition. Join our panelists as we look at the space Rowe’s Playhouse occupied in larger histories of Atlanta and how artists’ homes continue to be spaces for art appreciation and community engagement.
Visit High.org for details.