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Renée Stout

The Old Fortune Teller's Board
painted wood, watercolor and ink on paper, mudfish bones, chamois, raffia, and metal alloy
4 x 23 7/8 x 23 3/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson and Mrs. William Rhinelander Stewart

A mysterious woman in Renée Stout's former Pittsburgh neighborhood inspired The Old Fortune Teller's Board. Stout never met “Madam Ching” or ventured inside her establishment, but the artist imagined the special paraphernalia the fortuneteller used to practice the art of divination. According to the artist, “nothing on the board is evil.” Only positive readings are possible here.