Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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Root Chart #1
  • Renée Stout
    born 1958
    born: Junction City, Kansas, United States ; active: United States
  • Root Chart #1, 2006
  • Where object was made: United States
  • graphite on tracing vellum
  • Image Dimensions Height/Width: 43.4 x 58.4 cm
    Image Dimensions Height/Width: 17 1/16 x 23 in
    Sheet/Paper Dimensions: 46 x 61 cm
    Sheet/Paper Dimensions: 18 1/8 x 24 in
    Mat Dimensions: 24 x 32 in
  • Museum purchase: Letha Churchill Walker Fund
  • Not on display
  • 2008.0329
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
"Big Botany: Conversations with the Plant World", 27-Mar-2018
Stout’s art often engages with traditional African, Caribbean, and African American beliefs about the medicinal and spiritual qualities of plants as seen through Haitian and Creole hoodoo, vodue (or voodoo), and other religious practices of the African diaspora. Stout’s primary artistic alter egos, Fatima Mayfield and Madam Ching, are both root-workers and herbalists with extensive knowledge of the magical properties of these roots, such as those detailed in this informative chart.

The concept of plants as healing agents informs a great deal of Stout’s artwork, as creation, healing, and plants are all united in her mind. Stout collects herbs for use in daily healthcare as a means to ward off evil, or negative energy. These beliefs also become part of her artistic practice as she often hides these plants in her works. Regardless of the viewer’s awareness of their presence, for Stout the medicinal values of these herbs imbue her art and artistic processes with some of the properties associated with these specific plant species.