Artist’s work creates ‘parallel universe’ for positive mental space
Renée Stout’s exhibitions include devices that allow viewers a place of respite and refuge
My last few exhibitions, starting in 2015, have conveyed the thoughts I’ve had about the country being at a major crossroads since before the 2016 presidential election. At that time, as a highly perceptive and analytical person, I already had a feeling in my gut that the country was about to make some serious missteps, and I knew it wouldn’t bode well for the majority of who call this country home or seek to call it home. With each of those exhibitions, the title contained some reference to a “parallel universe” of my imagination that allows me to metaphorically remove myself from this current reality for my own sanity.
Each body of work included constructed “devices” which, in concept and intent, would allow me to access spirits or beings of a higher consciousness to help me generate and maintain positive energy in order to keep moving forward. One of my favorites from the series is the Spirit Selector. I compare the way I conceive of and create these objects to a child whose imagination tells her that these devices are actually active, because even if their power is imaginary (or is it?), my intent is not, and that’s the most powerful part – placing yourself in your mind where you want to be so that it can be actualized.
Ultimately, my work is about empowerment, and paintings and drawings such as Guardian of the Gate, Master of the Game and Hoodoo Assassin #12 (Antennae) represent the entities that protect that positive, mental space that I maintain for my sanity, from the negativity and sense of imbalance that seems so prevalent at this time in our world. Through my work, I make it clear that these stealthy tricksters, shape-shifters and hoodoo assassins are not to be messed with, and they are my companions as I continue to offer the viewer a place of respite and refuge along with me in that parallel universe.