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Nellie Mae Rowe

Also Known as: Nellie Mae Williams

Born:
Fayetteville, Georgia 1900

Died:
Vinings, Georgia 1982

Biography

"I feel great being an artist. I didn't even know that I would ever become one. It is just surprising to me."— Nellie Mae Rowe

Self-taught artist Nellie Mae Rowe created this delectable image, What Price Watermellon?, in her signature style—flattened images in vibrant colors. Although her works in humble materials such as crayon, cardboard, and felt-tip markers appear simple, the harmony of color and composition create a masterful suggestion of movement.

Rowe spent her entire life in the rural areas outlying Atlanta, Georgia. Though she enjoyed drawing from a young age, she came to art late in life, after the death of her second husband in 1948. Collectors of folk art began buying her work, and thus an artist was born.

Tiffany Farrell "Accidental Artist," 1001 Days and Nights of American Art Web site, entry for July 23, 2001 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2001).