NSU’s Cammie G. Henry Research Center assists Smithsonian

According to the Natchitoches Times, 13 paintings were gathered from the museum’s collection and electronically sent to the Smithsonian.

“When Cammie G. Henry died in 1970, her possessions were auctioned off by her children,” said Tommy Adkins, a tour guide at the plantation. NSU bought them.

Hunter’s paintings are recognized and respected all over the world. According to Sue Keller, a plantation tour guide, Hunter learned to paint by accident.

“All this happened when an artist came to the plantation and left some oil paint behind,” Keller said. At the age of 50, “Hunter said, ‘I took them home and by the light of a kerosene lamp I mapped my first picture.’”

Thomas Whitehead, Professor Emeritus at NSU and a longtime friend of Hunter’s, highlighted the importance of her work in a post-World War II context.

“Besides Hunter’s painting talents, she was also able to provide an insider’s perspective on life at Melrose before mechanization came to the plantation after World War II,” Whitehead said.

Hunter has become one of the most famous artists to born and work in Natchitoches Parish. An Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts was awarded to Hunter in 1985.

Hunter died in 1988 at the age of 101. About 5,000 of her paintings are in circulation.

NSU’s Cammie G. Henry Research is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.

Two researchers from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., came to Northwestern State University’s Cammie G. Henry Research Center to work on a new Clementine Hunter exhibition.

The exhibition, “Clementine Hunter: Life on Melrose Plantation,” opened on Aug. 25 at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It is set to stay open through March 2019.

“We did a simple Google search and many of the documents related to Clementine Hunter came up on the Cammie G. Henry Research Center,” said Kassie Edwards, one of the researchers.

Edwards was accompanied by Jacquelyn Serwer, chief curator of visual art at the museum. The two researchers studied the center’s materials to learn the inspiration behind Hunter’s paintings and to understand what life was like on a 20th-century plantation. They used the center’s collection of “scrapbooks, recordings, newspapers, photos, magazines, and brochures,” Edwards said.

“[The research center] contains more than 256 scrapbooks, 1,400 folders, an extensive book collection, maps, recordings, pictures, microfilms and CDs,” said university archivist Marry Linn West. “I think it’s wonderful that the Smithsonian is utilizing this center.”

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