Renée Stout’s multimedia practice engages with heritage, spirituality, mysticism and the ways in which ancestral cultural practice is retained throughout the African Diaspora.
Stout’s work is informed by her research of Hoodoo, Vodou, Santeria, and other African-based belief systems.
Through painting, assemblage, sculpture, photography and installation, her works “encourage self-examination, self-empowerment and self-healing.”
With Root Dispenser, Stout crafts a machine similar to those found in a 1950s laundromat or in the back of a juke joint.
Root Dispenser promises five of the “Highest Quality!” roots and herbs at only 50 cents apiece, an accessible option for those seeking treatment or elements to use for their own conjure practice.
Botanical Illustration #3 (The Herbmaster, James Luna) is reminiscent of 18th-and 19th-century botanical illustrations made to identify the anatomy of plants and their medicinal properties.
Stout dedicates this work to performance artist James Luna, who was of Puyukitchum, Luiseño, Ipai and Mexican heritage.
Stout surrounds her portrait of Luna with paintings of herbs known for their healing properties, including lotus root, yerba santa and ginger.
At the bottom she writes a list of herbs used in Luiseño healing traditions and a drawn, microscopic image of the COVID-19 virus.
Root Dispenser and Botanical Illustration #3 (The Herbmaster, James Luna) will be the first works by Stout to enter the collection.