By Wallace Ludel
Photography by Balarama Heller
Katie Stout’s sculpture and design objects are ebulliently their own. The domestic is subverted into the celebratory—ceramic lamps are comprised of women standing atop one another, shelf- like objects have fantastical, biomorphic qualities and all of it is at once utilitarian and decidedly, joyously decorative. Think Les Lalanne meets Niki de Saint Phalle meets Antoni Gaudí. “The categories of art and design have come to have little meaning to me,” the artist says. “It’s like, if you say a word over and over, you can’t even tell how it differs from any other arbitrary sound."
No material is off limits for Stout, and her exhibition at Nina Johnson this year, titled “Sour Tasting Liquid,” saw mosaic, porcelain, clay and wicker come together in a singular body of work. “I’m materially agnostic,” she says.
“Generally, it starts with drawings. If it’s ceramic, I usually start without a drawing but sometimes I’ll do vague sketches just as a visual anchor, so I don’t veer totally off track. But veering off track is important; my solution has been to work on multiple projects at once—I’ll usually have a commission going alongside a piece I just want to do and flop back and forth adding coils to each.”
With a rocky year almost behind us, there’s much left to be excited about in the New York–based artist’s immediate future. “I’m working on a show for R & Company and Venus Over Manhattan. I’m also very much looking forward to a show I’m curating for the Shaker Museum,” she says, adding, “and a big kiln—I’m very excited about that. The idea of investing in my studio has been terrifying. With so much that is wretched in the world, I have to make way more of an effort to act in optimism these days. But making stuff makes me feel good. I hope it makes others feel the same way.”