Clementine Hunter: Going against the grain


By Jasmine Frazier.

All year long we get a chance to reflect on history and the things that shaped the country. For one month out of the year, Black culture is emphasized to its fullest, allowing so many African- Americans to be recognized for their work.

Clementine Hunter, a self-taught artist from Natchitoches Parish, painted images based off her memories of life on a pre-Civil War plantation. Hunter was born and spent much of her life on Melrose plantation in the mid-1880s; during which time many African-Americans did not know how to read or write.

This, however, did not deter people like Hunter from seeking to convey their messages.

According to the National Museum of Women in Art, Hunter didn’t start painting until the 1940’s. The Museum also said her first painting is of a baptism on Cane River Lake.

She died in 1988 at 101 years old.

Hunter’s paintings are unique in that she can you do not find many artists that can tell a story the way she did through a paintbrush. Much of her work are of baptisms, funerals, religious beliefs and working on a plantation. Each image gives a little insight into history.

Hunter’s longtime friend, Thomas Whitehead, said: “One of her favorite things to do was pick cotton, now I thought that was a job most people would not want but Clementine said that was one of the most social parts of her day.”

Hunter is remembered as a well-known solo artist and is the first African-American artist to have a solo exhibit in the New Orleans Museum of Art. The history of African- American lives during the share crop era will live on through her work.

She has an honorary degree from NSU.

Hunter’s cabin is still present on Melrose, and is a local tourist attraction.