Nellie Mae Rowe was born in 1900 and grew up in rural Fayetteville, Georgia. Her father was a former slave. When she was 16, she escaped the farm and married, trying to find a better life. Though she started drawing at a young age, she did not return to art until her second husband, Henry “Buddy” Rowe, died in the late 1940s. Their house, which she’d always called her “Playhouse,” became an exhibition space adorned with found-object installations, handmade dolls, chewing-gum sculptures, and hundreds of drawings. Rowe died in 1982, but her Playhouse remains an object of fascination. This exhibition presents photographs and reconstructions of the Playhouse along with Rowe’s drawings. —E.C.
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