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Untitled (Wrestler)

Folk and Self-Taught Art

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Untitled (Wrestler)

Artwork Details

Artist/Maker

Nellie Mae Rowe
American, 1900–1982

Date

1968–1982

Medium

Crayon, colored pencil, and pencil on paper

Accession #

1993.55

Dimensions

11 x 8 1/2 inches

Location

Currently Not on View

Description

Nellie Mae Rowe was a dedicated fan of the wrestler Claude “Thunderbolt” Patterson and drew him multiple times. She tuned in regularly to watch him triumph in the ring, one of the rare spaces where an African American man was able to physically contend with opponents without fear of retribution. In 1976, for instance, Patterson vanquished the white wrestler, Frank Donald Goodish, a.k.a “Bruiser Brody,” to win the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship. Patterson fought for fair pay and better working conditions for black athletes, a cause that ultimately damaged his career. Today Patterson lives in Georgia and says that one of the only reasons people seek him out is because Rowe’s drawings have kept his legacy alive.

Credit

Gift of Andy Nasisse for the Nasisse Collection

Image Copyright

(c) Estate of Nellie Mae Rowe/High Museum of Art, Atlanta