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C.C. Hunt’s life in Southern Illinois has come full circle.

Born and raised in Marion, she first moved out of the region to pursue a degree in merchandising at Eastern Illinois University. Post-graduation, her career took her south to New Orleans, where she worked in fashion for 12 years.

A job transfer would take her from the French Quarter to the Big Apple, as she spent five years as a personal shopper and stylist for high-end clients, including a few movie stars, at Henri Bendel. While she loved her stint in New York City, Hunt would find herself returning home to Southern Illinois to handle some family matters.

“Everyone thought it would be difficult for me to come back,” Hunt said. “But Illinois is centrally located, so it’s easy for me to take off and go places.”

But she quickly settled into the familiar Marion community. She helped launch the Artstarts organization, belongs to Heartland Rotary and serves as the marketing coordinator for The Pavilion of the City of Marion.

At her job, she works to coordinate events at the venue, which was purchased by the city about a year and a half ago. She’s been involved with an effort to add new life to the facility, including adding new décor inside and plans to add colored lighting to the outside to attract attention.

“We have a new outlook, we have a new feel, we have a new aura about the building,” Hunt said.

Once inside the building, though, one of the most noticeable features is Hunt’s own office, overflowing with vibrant colors and filled with memorabilia from her life’s travels and adventures. Passing by the window in her door, one can’t help but stop and take a look inside.

— Adam Testa

photography by Paul Newton

Hunt is a self-professed dog lover. She has three canine companions at home — Elle Woods, a blond pug named after the character from ‘Legally Blonde’; Nelly, a black pug named after the rapper; and Carmelo, a Jack Russell terrier named after basketball player Carmelo Anthony.

Hunt misses the hustle of life in New York City, as depicted in this painting, but she returns to the city at least once a year. In the summer, she organizes a bus trip, taking 50 Southern Illinoisans with her.

Several pictures of Hunt’s two children line this cabinet in her office. Logan, 17, is a senior at Marion High School. Campbell, named after Hunt’s maiden name, is a senior at the University of Mississippi.

Among her many collectibles, Hunt has a number of items representing different religions and faiths from around the world. This lamp features Christian iconography, while she has statues of Buddhist heads on the book shelf across the room.

One of Hunt’s favorite items in her office, these pieces of art also represent her name. The initials are shared by Coco Chanel, whose portrait is featured on the back wall of her office.

In addition to serving as the executive director of Artstarts, Hunt also directs many of its musicals and theatrical productions. This drawing was done in commemoration of the group’s presentation of the Broadway classic ‘CATS’ and features caricatures of Hunt and the cast.

Hunt’s ‘haughty-taughty’ purse is one of her most prized possessions. It’s red, her favorite color, and fits in nicely while visiting her daughter at Ole Miss.

Hunt has traveled the world, visiting places from Europe to Israel to South America. She has collected items both from her own travels and from other reaches of the globe. Two of these decorative heads, from India, sit atop her office bookshelf.

This artwork was a gift from Hunt’s children. It’s one of many items in her office celebrating her family.

Hunt was one of the co-founders of the Artstarts program, which has its logo featured on this pillow in her office.

The newest addition to Hunt’s office, this sculpture sits on her desk. When someone walks in and asks a question, she will grab it and raise it, giving the ‘A OK’ symbol.

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