beloved southern folk artist clementine hunter

Clementine Hunter in the 1960s.

I’ve always been fascinated by what compels creatives to make art, especially those who are self taught and persist despite overwhelming odds.

Take Clementine Hunter (pronounced Clementeen), one of the South’s most celebrated folk artists. Though she never learned to read or write, and didn’t begin painting until her 50s, she managed to produce between 5,000 – 10,000 paintings, all while working as a cook and housekeeper at Melrose Plantation in Louisiana.

She is known for her unique and vibrant ‘visual diary’ of rural plantation life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, an insider’s view of the African American perspective. Not only a pivotal figure in folk art, she’s also remembered as an important social and cultural historian.

Clementine (née Clémence) was born into a French Creole family at Hidden Hill Plantation near Cloutierville in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, around Christmas 1886. A descendant of slaves, she was the eldest of seven children. 

Continue reading