Nellie Mae Rowe

In this self-portrait, Rowe used colorful inks to transform a black-and-white photograph into an otherworldly image in which she resembles a paper doll. The setting of the photo is her home in Vinings, Georgia, which she fashioned into what she called her playhouse.” Visitors to Rowe’s decorated yard encountered a cobbled pathway of bottle caps, homemade dolls, topiary, and Christmas ornaments hung from trees in an idiosyncratic adaptation of the African bottle tree tradition. “I would take nothing and make something out of it,” Rowe often said.

Nellie Mae Rowe
American, 1900–1982
Untitled, 1978
Marker on black-and-white photograph mounted on paper, mounted on plywood, with additions of white paint and oil pastel
The Morgan Library & Museum, Gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection and purchase on the Manley Family Fund, 2018.100
© 2021 Estate of Nellie Mae Rowe / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York