Katie Stout spotlighted in i-D

January 13th, 2016

Is Katie Stout the Bushwick Martha Stewart?

After collaborating with Bjarne Melgaard for the 2014 Whitney Biennial, and a season on Ellen DeGeneres’ reality TV show, the Brooklyn-based artist is figuring out her next move.

Katie Stout owns a lot of glitter, and Martha Stewart (the brand) made most of it. “For a while, I wanted to be Martha Stewart,” she tells me as we stare at the colorful vials on the shelves of her Bushwick studio. “But, like, the Roseanne version of Martha: kind of gross and sweaty and loud… but crafty! And with my own show.”

Actually, Katie did (kind of) have her own show last year. She appeared as a contestant on HGTV’s Ellen’s Design Challenge, in which six furniture designers competed to win a $100,000 check from Ellen DeGeneres. In a strange turn of events — stranger even than being on Ellen DeGeneres’ reality TV show — Tim, the fan-beloved cowboy woodworker whose desk won the final project, was disqualified, and Katie won by default.

Doubly surreal: the show filmed during the same year that Katie exhibited her furniture at the Whitney Biennial. She worked with her frequent collaborator artist Bjarne Melgaard to create the setting for his demonic funhouse installation Think I’m Gonna Have a Baby. She made a large sectional sofa covered in Melgaard’s prints and NSFW life-size dolls; plush emojis; and a throw pillow with Skrillex’s face on it.

In 2015, when the Ellen show eventually aired, Katie would go on Twitter after each episode and read viewers’ comments. “People couldn’t stand my voice,” she says. Though she grew up in New Jersey, she speaks with a slightly Valley Girl drawl that makes her animated way of speaking even more intriguing. She talks about avant-garde European art movements with the style and authority of Cher Horowitz talking about Alaïa and Fred Segal.

Katie’s aesthetic is also an ongoing exchange between playfulness and sincerity. “I like to make silly things, but take it reeeeally seriously,” she explains. She shows me a set of pink placemats shaped like lips with bright red napkin tongues, and a mockup for an outdoor sofa that vaguely resembles a dinosaur with its curved Memphis-like lines.

In the center of the floor is her current project: a mirror with a frame made from dollops of multicolored resin and glitter. It has a hot pink plastic chain at the top for hanging, like something from the Barbie Dreamhouse. As we talk, she intermittently splatters it with more beige and copper liquid resin – because at the moment, she says, all the blues are pinks are making it look “too The Little Mermaid.”

Katie compares her studio to a playroom, and her intuitive, spontaneous-seeming style of working definitely has a certain child-prodigy flair to it. But since enrolling as a student in RISD’s furniture department in 2009, her style has matured a lot, she says. “Freshman year, I got really obsessed with farm animals,” she remembers, fiddling with a half-finished lamp held together with what looks like bubblegum. See the full article here…