Art In Action: Self-Taught Artist — Clementine Hunter
By Darla McCammon
and Darlene Romano
WARSAW — Clementine Hunter (1887-1988) was born at Hidden Hill Plantation in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, and has become one of the best-known self-taught artists.
Hunter received very little education and started working in the fields when she was 8 years old, picking cotton alongside her father. When Hunter was 15, she moved with her family to Melrose, a cotton plantation. Hunter was around 20 years old when she married Charles Dupree, and they had two children before he passed away. In the 1920s, Hunter began working as a cook and housekeeper at Melrose for Cammie Henry, the wife of John H. Henry. Hunter then met and married Emmanuel Hunter, and they had three children together.
Melrose evolved into an artists colony, hosted by Cammie and John Henry. After artists visited the salon, Hunter would use the oil paints they left behind and paint at night after working all day in the plantation house. She painted from memory using whatever surfaces she could find — canvas, wood, paper, wine bottles. Her bright whimsical paintings depicted everyday life in and around the plantation, including things like hanging out the wash and picking cotton. In her paintings, she disregarded formal perspective and scale, rendering her figures in expressionless profile.
With the support of some patrons of the plantation, Hunter was able to practice her art and make a name for herself. Francois Mignon, the curator of the plantation and a good friend of Hunter, gave her paints and materials. Mignon got her paintings displayed in a local drugstore where they were sold for $1. Hunter lived in near poverty for most of her life. In the 1940s, she was selling paintings for as little as a quarter, but by the time of her death her work was being sold to dealers for thousands of dollars. However, Hunter did not paint for the money. She painted because she loved it and would frequently give her paintings away.
Wawasee Fine Arts Festival: The festival brings together artists from Indiana and beyond, showcasing an array of artistic mediums for this juried art show. Kids activities, a playground, food vendors and a lush park setting make this event a treat for everyone. Free admission. The festival takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.Saturday, May 27, at Oakwood Resort in Syracuse. For more information, call (703) 489-7124.
Lakeland Art Center & Gallery: The reception for the high school art students is from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, May 21, during which time awards will be presented. The High School Art Showcase will close at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 3. For more information, send an email to [email protected]. Next is the annual juried show. Art is accepted and installed on Sunday, June 4, for the juried show, which will open at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 7. The reception will be from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, June 25, with the awards presentation for the winning art at 3:30 p.m. This show will end at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 22. All artists are encouraged to participate in this show.
Warsaw City Hall Art Gallery: Kim Lanoue is the featured exhibitor at the Warsaw City Hall Art Gallery. The gallery is inside of Warsaw City Hall, is located at 102 S. Buffalo St., Warsaw. The gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, and admission is free. To exhibit at Warsaw City Hall Art Gallery, contact Darla McCammon, curator, at (574) 527-4044 (please leave a message) or send an email to [email protected].
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