Clementine Hunter's Speculative Visions: Re-inscribing Black Women's Geographies into Rural Space
My talk explores the artworks of Louisiana painter, Clementine Hunter (1886/87-1988), within the context of black diasporic women’s geographic relationships to land and place. Hunter, who spent most of her adult life as a domestic worker and picking cotton on Melrose Plantation, painted the places where she lived, worked, prayed, and played. While studies of Hunter’s creative expression often define her artistry using categories of “vernacular,” “self-taught,” “folk,” or “outsider,” I suggest that her work and historical positionality pushes us to see her artistry beyond these categories. Her assemblage of work, in which interpersonal relationships, spirituality, death, and motherhood are continual themes, present a complex artistry of an African American woman coming of age in northern Louisiana at the turn of the 20th century. In this talk, I center her lesser-known works and suggest the speculative as a conceptual intervention into the ways we explore Hunter’s creative claims to space.