Empty Chair, 1981. Nellie Mae Rowe. Graphite, crayon, and pastel on paper. Gift of Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2014. © 2022 Nellie Mae Rowe / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.The artist reflects on her own mortality in Empty Chair. A female figure in a matching red hat and shirt, a surrogate for the painter, gazes upon a younger version of herself that hovers over an empty chair suggesting absence and loss. The older incarnation turns away from a Tree of Life flanked by a peaceful menagerie. Rowe’s complicated symbolic language frees her drawings from any fixed meaning or singular interpretation, allowing the viewer to meditate on the narrative and metaphorical possibilities embedded within each piece.