October 1 will be known as Clementine Hunter Day in Louisiana due to a resolution by State Rep. Kenny Cox of Mansfield which was recently approved by the Louisiana Legislature to honor the acclaimed artist, who was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Northwestern State University.
Hunter was born on Hidden Hill Plantation near Cloutierville and lived her entire life in Louisiana’s Cane River region. She worked in the fields at Melrose Plantation during much of the early part of the last century. It was during this period of her life she discovered her talent for painting. Her years of painting resulted in a body of work that illuminates the often-untold story of life among the African Americans and Creole workers. Paintings that once sold for a few cents now fetch thousands of dollars at auction.
The Louisiana artist’s paintings hang in famous museums around the world and her life has been celebrated in books, documentaries and on stage. Cox said although the artist was “small in stature, through her paintings and quilts Clementine Hunter occupies a place at the pinnacle of American culture.”
The idea to honor Hunter with an annual day of recognition came from Loletta Wynder, director of the Creole Heritage Center at Northwestern State.
“It just seemed to me that Hunter’s contribution to the State of Louisiana deserved annual recognition, said Wynder.”
A large number of members of Hunter’s family were on hand when the resolution was presented, including granddaughters Delores Sewell and Willie Mae Jefferson. Natchitoches businessman and friend of the late artist, Edward Ward, Jr. joined Art Shiver, Hunter’s biographer, and Wynder in accepting the resolution.