Katie Stout’s intentionally naïve, kitschy-pop style is an explosion of exuberance. Seven years out of the Rhode Island School of Design, where she studied furniture design, the young Brooklyn-based talent has been creating a stir among collectors in both the art and design worlds for her distinctive, playful works that belie their subversive agenda.
Take, for example, her coveted series of ceramic “Girl Lamps.” Lumpy, voluptuous women are fashioned into lights—reclining, arms outstretched, piggybacking one another—complete with gilded erogenous zones and childlike faces. Presented as domestic objects in some kind of whacky Claymation, Stout questions the traditional role of women and challenges their objectification. “I think that people tend to like more absurd objects when their surroundings are really absurd,” says Stout. “It’s a sort of a reaction to the political atmosphere…If everything is crazy, why not have that reflected in our domestic spaces?”
Her expansive body of work also includes painterly wallpaper, spiky colored wall mirrors, rugs that resemble giant floppy hats, plastic chairs stuffed with lingerie, and wonky bookshelves crafted in wood, resin, and papier-mâche. Many pieces are fantastical and not functional. “I always feel like coming up with the idea is super fun,” says Stout. “And then I have to figure out the logistics, like how am I going to make this really wobbly thing stand up and not kill a child?” she quips.
Last year, she crafted an edgy ready-to-wear collection for boutique concept store Forty Five Ten. This month, she has a solo exhibition at Nina Johnson in Miami, “Sour Tasting Liquid,” where she presents a brand-new body of work celebrating handicrafts, and she is preparing for a solo exhibition at R&Co in the fall.
“The end game is that I want to create things that make people light up,” says Stout. “Maybe I make them feel a little bit better about their day, and about themselves, and they can say, at least I don’t look like that lamp!”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2020 Spring Issue under the headline Creative Minds. Subscribe to the magazine.