Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nellie Mae

Nellie Mae was an African-American woman born in 1900 in Fayette, Georgia. She was exposed to art early on in her youth as both her parents were craftspeople. Her father was a basket-maker and her mother was a quilt-maker. She was married to Henry Rowe and after his death Nellie Mae began to dedicate herself fully to her work. Nellie Mae lived through the civil right movements and women's movements which influenced her work. She continued her work until her death in 1982.

The image above title "The Cow Jump over the Mone" is the drawing by Nellie Mae that made me chose this artist. The title alludes to the nursery rhyme "Hey Diddle Diddle." The dream-like images are used in order to portray Mae's sense of faith in herself, which more than likely rose from the social movements that she lived through.

This untitled drawing by Mae depicts her surrounded by a garden of flowers along with her which she collectively called her playhouse served as source of creativity for her work. This idea of being a child once more is yet another aspect of her work that I find interesting. Mae used various utensil commonly associated with child-art such as colored pencils, pencils, felt tip pens, and such, further emphasizing this very aspect of her artwork.

The above image titled "Something that Hasn't Been Born Yet" demonstrates many of Mae's techniques that are very characteristic of her works. There are various swirls that are used throughout this image along with the usage of flowers which can be very easily compared those of the former two that I have chosen to include. Mae also creates value by shading in regions that are big and simple such as bodies, chairs, outlines that help to separate the main object of a piece from the background in order to emphasize the object.

In essence, the simplistic forms of Nellie Mae's work along with the usage of ready-made materials to create her works depicting her sense of self and child-like spirit are the reasons I chose her as an artist to explore.
Works Cited:
Mae, Nellie. The Cow Jumped Over the Moon. c. 1978. American Folk Art Museum. ARTstor. Web. 3 Oct. 2011.
Mae, Nellie. Untitled (Nellie in Her Yard). c. 1978. American Folk Art Museum. ARTstor. Web. 3 Oct. 2011.
Mae, Nellie. Something that Hasn't Been Born Yet. c. 1979. American Folk Art Museum. ARTstor. Web. 3 Oct. 2011.
American Folk Art Museum. ARTstor. Web. 3 Oct. 2011
*Biographical information taken from photographic descriptions.

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