One of the great joys of working in so many places is getting to meet people with special gifts. Shirley Hunter is one of those people on St. Simons Island. She is a local artist and she says that the theme of her career is “family art that warms the heart.”
I discovered Shirley Hunter when we came back to Fort Frederica this year. Some of her prints are for sale in our bookstore. I was immediately drawn to the prints. They are colorful, vibrant, and full of joy. If I had a place to display the prints in our tiny home, I would buy as many of them as I could fit. Instead, I settled for buying some of Shirley’s notecards. Notecards are always useful and I scanned them so I have the artwork to enjoy on my computer.
When I met Shirley Hunter the first time, I discovered why her artwork is so full of joy: her paintings reflect Shirley’s own heart. Shirley is as vibrant, warm, and joy-filled as her art. Shirley grew with the Gullah Geechee culture on the coastal sea islands. Her grandmother taught her to appreciate bright colors. Her husband taught her to appreciate the gift of living each day. When her husband died young, Shirley thought the colors would go too. But they appear in her art now brighter than ever.
Shirley Hunter is a self-taught artist and most people would classify her art as “folk.” She calls her work “folk art with a twist.” Right now she is mostly known locally, but her art has touched many people who come into the Visitors Center. I’m sure she will become more widely known.
We were fortunate to have Shirley Hunter as a guest artist during our Gullah Geechee Heritage Day celebration. She set up a display of her artwork and sold many of her prints. My booth was a little ways away from hers, but I could hear her laughter frequently through the day. She was very pleased with the response to her artwork and hopes that we will invite her back again.
I couldn’t find any links to Shirley Hunter online, although there are a few examples of her artwork here and here. Her art is for sale at several places on St. Simons Island as well as at the Red Piano Too Gallery on St. Helena Island in South Carolina.
What do you think of Shirley Hunter’s art? Does it speak to you? Is there a local artist where you live whose work inspires you?