Renée Stout

Renée Stout

Born 1958

Artist Details

Birth Place
Junction City, Kansas
Books and manuscripts; Painting; Sculpture; Drawing and prints; Photography
Places of Residence
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1976–80
Retrospective Exhibitions

Astonishment and Power: Kongo Minkisi and the Art of Renée Stout, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C. 1993; Gathered Visions: Selected Works of African-American Women Artists, Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1990

NMWA Exhibitions

Bound to Amaze: Inside a Book-Collecting Career, 2018
25 x 25: Artists’ Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts Collection, 2012
Artists’ Sketchbooks and Illustrated Diaries: Exploring the In/Visible, 2007
The Book as Art: Twenty Years of Artists’ Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 2006–07
Book as Art XII: Artists’ Books from the Permanent Collection, 2000
Book as Art: Tenth Anniversary Exhibition, 1997
Artists’ Sketchbooks: The Intimate Journeys, 1994


About the Artist

Renée Stout is a Washington, D.C., artist whose paintings and sculptures have earned her international recognition. Stout’s assemblages incorporate found objects, African symbols, remnants of stories and letters, and vintage photographs.

A 1980 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, her career began with photo-realist paintings of everyday urban neighborhoods. Soon, she developed mystical interests, delving into ancient African traditions, magic, and her vivid imagination. Her fascination with fortunetellers and the healing power of Voodoo priests was on display in her 1993 exhibition at the National Museum of African Art, where Stout’s fetishistic pieces were presented alongside Kongo carvings, believed to have healing powers.

A dark edge of her artwork followed her move to D.C., where she witnessed sordid truths behind urban decay and city life. Rampant drug use and racial stereotyping are among the issues Stout directly confronts in mixed-media works. Fictional narratives with imaginary characters derived from the artist’s alter ego trace her personal history and spiritual journey as a woman and artist.

Stout’s prints, drawings, photographs, and mixed media installations have been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the U.S., England, Russia, and the Netherlands. The artist, in collaboration with poet Carol Beane, won the NMWA Library Fellows Artist’s Book Award in 2008 for their work The Streets of Used to Be.

National Museum of Women in the Arts