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date: 19 November 2019

Hunter, Clementinelocked

(b Hidden Hill Plantation, near Cloutierville, LA, Dec 1886; d Jan 1, 1988).
  • Sandra Sider

Extract

(b Hidden Hill Plantation, near Cloutierville, LA, Dec 1886; d Jan 1, 1988).

African American painter. Clementine (pronounced “Clementeen”) Hunter was born the granddaughter of a slave. Her family moved to Melrose Plantation, near Natchitoches, LA, when she was a teenager. She was a Creole, speaking only a dialect of French until the 1970s, when her second husband, Emmanuel Hunter, taught her English. Hunter worked as a field hand picking cotton and, later, as a housekeeper. She had seven children. She began painting in 1939, encouraged by François Mignon, a writer who was visiting the plantation. Hunter estimated that by 1981 she had completed more than 5000 paintings. Her work was first exhibited in the New Orleans Arts and Crafts show in 1949 and during the 1970s in several major museums across the country.

Melrose Plantation provided a vibrant cultural community in which Hunter was able to flourish. During the first half of the 20th century, it was a mecca for mostly Southern writers and artists. Hunter used discarded paint and other materials, creating her floral still lifes and narrative scenes of farm life after hours, in addition to her duties on the plantation. Her first painting was executed on an old window shade, and she often painted on cardboard, plywood, brown paper bags and bottles. Except for an experiment in abstraction that lasted from ...

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