Clementine was born just 60 years after the Civil War, around 1886 (the records were not as clear for poor blacks then). Born on a plantation to a sharecropper & tenant farmer father, Clementine was the oldest of 7 children. She grew up in "Hidden Hill" a tough place said to be the inspiration for Uncle Tom's Cabin. Clementine was only able to receive 10 days of schooling in her whole life, and lived illiterate. It was a tough life.
Clementine came across painting and thankfully some art supplies left at the plantation, and that was the start of magic. A fully self taught artist, Clementine went on to became legend. Her 4000 - 5000 works are a major part of American folk art and chronicled plantation life. She was poor, and lived in poverty most of her life. Not able to afford paint, she painted when people brought her supplies. She painted on cardboard. She painted for 25 cents. She just painted.
Eventually her works gained a huge following. Letters from The White House, letters from Senators, an Honorary Degree of Fine Arts. Exhibits came too. Sadly, one exhibit in her honor she could not attend as it was segregation times - even though the celebration was for her work, she was black and could not attend. But Clementine just kept going on.
With all this attention, but lack of rights and resources, Clementine was a target for forgery. But people absolutely loved and fought for her work, and brought it to the attention of the FBI, who caught the offender. Through all this, Clementine stands tall in the art world, well loved and a big influence on American art. While born only 20 years after slavery legally ended, and lived in poverty, at the age of 98 Clementine was able to buy her first parcel of land and moved her trailer there.
A big, big influence and a lesson that under any circumstance, while not easy, you can achieve greatness by following your dreams.