Title: Art from Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter
Author: Kathy Whitehead
Illustrator: Shane W. Evans
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 5.3
Concepts: farm work, jobs, human resources, discrimination
Review: Clementine Hunter, one of America’s most famous self-taught artists and the first African American woman to display her work in the New Orleans Museum of Art, did not begin to paint until she was in her fifties. With little interest as a young girl in going to school, she had worked most of her life as a paid agricultural laborer on Melrose Plantation, picking cotton, gathering pecans, and doing domestic work.
Because Melrose attracted numerous artists-in-residence, Clementine was able to use left-over or donated art supplies to start painting. With her extraordinary artistic talent and ability to tell stories of plantation life through pictures, Clementine gradually started to show her art pieces in galleries and sell her work for increasing values. Sadly, the country’s segregation laws prevented her from attending her own gallery exhibits during business hours, and she had to wait until after hours to see her work on display.
Art from her Heart is a superb book that gives younger readers the opportunity to learn about Clementine Hunter’s important contributions to folk art and the obstacles she faced as an African American woman artist. Closely integrated into the story are important economics lessons related to farm work, human resources, and discrimination. The stunning illustrations and art-piece reproductions add a powerful dimension with which the reader can more fully appreciate Clementine’s story and her talent.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children