The Ulrich Digital Sequence with Renée Stout displays what conjures up her murals – The Sunflower
Art is versatile and meaningful to those who use its power to speak to the public. Renée Stout makes the audience think deeply about her works of art.
On April 13th, Stout was introduced by Ulrich in the virtual series of the art museum for an artist talk.
“Renée Stout is a contemporary American artist whose work is known for his strong reflections on African American heritage and the visual culture of the African diaspora.” Ksenya Gurshtein, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Ulrich Museum of Art, said.
Stout said when she was in fourth grade, her teacher told her parents to enroll them in art classes on Saturdays because of her talent.
In 1976-1980 when she attended Carnegie Mellon University, Edward Hoppers, and eventually more photorealistic artist, was the artist by whom she was most influenced.
As an African American artist, she began to be more into African art and decided to make a shape called “Fetish Number Two,” which was five feet tall, out of her body.
“That was when I started really getting into African art and when I really got into the philosophy and reasons for some of the ceremonial objects that were created. . . The spiritual that was driven by the belief that nature, humans, everyone must be in harmony for everything else to exist. I looked at that philosophy when it came to establishing myself as an African American, ”said Stout.
When she first visited New Orleans, she learned how slaves had preserved their spiritual belief system and brought it with her to America.
“I began to connect these ancient African American belief systems to today’s modern America and how they still exist,” said Stout
Another piece that Stout created was about politicians who weren’t telling the truth. It consisted of computer parts that someone could talk to and see if they were lying.
“There are times when my work goes from the personal to the political and then back and forth, and at certain times I was very concerned about a whole range of political issues. . . I decided to do a series of plays about a long line of freedom fighters like John Brown, ”said Stout.
Weapons represented freedom fighters in the installation and it was a symbol of the struggle, although the weapons in the piece are not real.
In 1990, Stout developed an alter ego because she was an introvert. It was based on a fortune teller she met in Pittsburgh.
In 2006, Stout saw her evolving and her alter ego no longer representing her. Hence, a new alter ego emerged that was also a fortune teller and abstract thinker who could see what was going on in society so that it could help its community. She would show her interior through art installations.
She began to wonder what that alter ego looked like and put on wigs and outfits that she would never have worn. Stout said that her alter ego helps her project what kind of person she wants to be and then grow into that alter ego.
“At the age I am now, I no longer need the alter ego. Yes, I’m still an introvert, but Renee has run out of filters. I am who I am, I grew up to be the woman I want to be. She still acts as a protagonist in some of my artwork, ”said Stout.
In 2015, she felt the country was at a crossroads and had the feeling that something was wrong.
“Throughout this entire show, I’ve tried to get the feeling that we have to make the right decisions. . . Get back to concepts like courtesy, humility, compassion and love and see people as people, ”said Stout. “I already felt like we were going to strange times, and I created these pieces to somehow communicate that.”
On her 2018 show, she decided that she had to create a parallel universe as a reminder that even when she was in the situation, she could still be separated and not be consumed by it. The individual looking into the parallel universe in the artwork represents that he will overcome this and that although people see him in a certain way, they know who he is. She made another painting with a guardian of the parallel universe.
“I will protect this parallel universe, and in this parallel universe I am responsible and it does not reveal anything about itself because that would reveal its own power. . . It’s based on a person I met in New Orleans in 2018, ”said Stout.
Stout’s work is consistent with the philosophy of Afrofuturism, which speaks of the idea of looking to the future.
“We have to go beyond what we’re going through to get to where we see ourselves. . . I am building a world that I see for myself and it helps me evolve and overcome whatever we go through, ”said Stout.
Stout said that she always thinks about the past, present and future at the same time.
“I’m doing what I do because I don’t think people should be ashamed of their indecent religions and how it has helped them get through in certain circumstances,” Stout said. “One of the reasons I do my job is to get it out there and pay homage to it and keep it going.”
Renée Stout: Ghosts can be seen from January 21st to May 8th at the Ulrich Museum of Art.