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Untitled (Look Back in Wonder at How I Got Over)

Folk and Self-Taught Art

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Untitled (Look Back in Wonder at How I Got Over)

Artwork Details

Artist/Maker

Nellie Mae Rowe
American, 1900–1982

Date

1982

Medium

Crayon, marker, pen, and colored pencil on paper

Accession #

2003.231

Dimensions

18 x 23 1/2 inches

Location

On View - Wieland Pavilion, Lower Level, Gallery 100

Description

Said to have been her last, this work was inspired by the gospel anthem popularized by Mahalia Jackson, “How I Got Over.” Rowe’s strong yellow invokes “the streets of gold” that line “the homeland of the soul,” described in the song. Along with reds and greens, the yellow also recalls the colors of the Pan-African flag. Rowe’s central serpentine creature wears the double crown of ancient Egyptian kings, locating her scene within the Book of Exodus, which was often used in African American religion and visual art to frame their modern struggle for freedom. She casts Moses as a brown man parting the crosshatched Red Sea to finally reach the Promised Land.

Credit

Gift of Judith Alexander

Image Copyright

© Estate of Nellie Mae Rowe/High Museum of Art, Atlanta.