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Elaine Y. Yau
Unknown institution
The Paintings of Clementine Hunter (1887–1988), a Folk Artist of Rural Louisiana

Research and preparation for an article on the self-taught Louisiana painter Clementine Hunter (1887-1988).

Clementine Hunter (1887-1988) is celebrated for her paintings of everyday life in rural Louisiana, where she was a sharecropper and domestic servant throughout the early 20th century. In their relationship to the past, these artworks have bolstered Hunter’s reputation as one of America’s great folk artists. In this model, her racial blackness functions as a defining aspect of her marginality that her art overcomes. This project offers a more dynamic history opened up by Hunter’s explorations of African and creole subjects. Neither obvious memory paintings nor simple representations, these abstracted renditions of French creoles of color and Caribbean rituals illuminate Hunter’s engagement with legacies of slavery and racial and cultural mixture. I turn to theories of creolization and diasporic imaginations forged by cultural critics, folklorists, and art historians to examine these paintings; Hunter’s evolving sense of her French, Creole, and African ancestry; and her modernity.

Project fields:
African American Studies; Art History and Criticism; Folklore and Folklife

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2018 – 9/30/2018