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Real Girl

Folk and Self-Taught Art

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Real Girl

Artwork Details


Nellie Mae Rowe
American, 1900–1982




Color photograph, crayon, pen, and pencil on cardboard

Accession #



Please contact the Museum for more information.


Currently Out on Loan


Real Girl is one of at least a dozen drawings in which Rowe embedded a picture of herself, embracing various visible dimensions of her identity and their intersections. As she told one reporter in 1979, “I am black and I love my blackness.” Here, she has placed her signature at the literal heart of her composition under an image of herself in front of her home holding a doll. She asserts that she is a “real girl” and uses traditionally feminine forms like the color bright pink, lacy edges, flowers, and the heart arabesque to complete this valentine to herself.


Gift of Judith Alexander

Image Copyright

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