clementine hunterAmerican (1886-1988)

Clementine Hunter was a self-taught African American folk artist from the Cane River region of Louisiana. Born at Hidden Hill Plantation, Hunter spent her youth moving around in the Cane River Valley while her father looked for work. As a child, she attended St. John the Baptist Catholic Church School but quit as a young girl and never learned to read or write. Hunter moved to Melrose Plantation as a teenager. Working as an agricultural laborer, she also took informal classes at night with other workers. In the late 1920s, Hunter began working as cook and housekeeper for the mistress of the plantation, Cammie Henry. This relationship changed Hunter’s life. Henry was a patron of the arts and encouraged Hunter; it was because of this encouragement that Hunter created her first quilts. Hunter gained support from numerous individuals associated with Melrose Plantation, including François Mignon, a friend of Henry’s. He supplied Hunter with paint and materials and promoted her work. Hunter’s paintings were displayed in the local drugstore, where they were sold for one dollar. Without any formal training, Hunter produced colorful memory paintings that captured everyday life on Melrose Plantation. Her depiction of cotton picking, washdays, pecan picking, weddings, baptisms, funerals and other scenes of life on Melrose, have made her works coveted around the world.

Collectors of Hunter’s work include: the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; the American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY; the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA