Seven Windows 1996

Renée Stout, Seven Windows, 1996; Gift of the United States Department of Education

In creating Seven Windows, Renée Stout has taken the viewer into the world of Madam Ching, who serves as the artist’s alter ego. Madam Ching, a mysterious fortune-teller and root worker, functioned as a vehicle through which she could analyze the complexities of the self and human relationships.

Set up in the form of nine pages from a journal, Seven Windows situates the viewer as voyeur following the daily activities of Madam Ching as she brews perfumes and love potions, buys and sells exotic herbs, and reads letters from friends and lovers. The journal pages are illustrated with tiny drawings, stamps, and cigar labels. The title refers to the seven large windows in the artist’s studio at the time the piece was created. It gave Stout an expansive view of the neighborhood from which much of her inspiration was drawn.

National Museum of Women in the Arts