Fringe Selects at Shaker Museum – Curated by Katie Stout
Opening December 11, 2020
17 Main Street, Chatham, New York
Katie Stout was invited by Shaker Museum Executive Director Lacy Schutz to explore their holdings and curate a selection of objects for an exhibition titled Fringe Selects on view at their temporary pop up space in Downtown Chatham, New York. The objects Stout was drawn to are not what one usually thinks of as classic Shaker work. Take the fetishistic bull blinder that looks like a bustier, or the trippy looking mushroom shaped spool holder. Her selections – mostly women made objects – are presented alongside two brand new chairs hand made by Stout and inspired by signature Shaker bonnets.
Shaker Museum announced its latest exhibition Fringe Selects in collaboration with artist/designer Katie Stout opening on December 11, 2020. Through a selection of Shaker material chosen by Stout from the Museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition explores the breadth of Shaker objects by taking a closer look at the objects on the “fringe”—colorful, ornamental, and less well-known than the minimalist, iconic Shaker pieces. Also on view are two new chairs by Stout created as a response to her exploration of Shaker material culture. The exhibition is presented in Shaker Museum’s pop-up space located at 17 Main Street in downtown Chatham, donated by Columbia County resident, Jack Shear, and near the future home of Shaker Museum’s permanent facility.
Stout professes a long-held interest in Shaker design. “Their resourcefulness, simple solutions, and entrepreneurial genius have always been inspiring to me.”
According to Stout, Fringe Selects offers a more textured perspective on Shaker design to counter the predominant belief that Shaker design is minimalist and strictly utilitarian. “I chose objects, photos, and art from Shaker Museum’s collection that I found surprising and in contrast to the austerity one typically associates with Shakers.” A crocheted stuffed dog, a baby blue pot holder in the shape of a squirrel, and colorful seat cushions are among the material on view. Photos depicting how the Shakers lived and worked, including the interior of a Shaker bedroom and a store, give context to how some of the material was used and sold by the Shakers at the time.
“We could not have wished for a more relevant and exciting collaborator than Katie [Stout],” states Lacy Schutz, Executive Director, Shaker Museum. “Partnering with today’s leading makers like Katie is a meaningful way to introduce Shaker material culture to a broader audience. There are more similarities between Shaker objects and Katie’s work than one might first assume. It’s interesting to see this selection of objects largely made by women through the lens of a contemporary female designer. That is what makes this exhibition incredibly impactful.”
The two chairs created by Stout and on view exclusively as part of Fringe Selects were inspired by the Shaker bonnets and cloaks which were predominantly made by Shaker women. Describing her process, Stout explains, “As I began making these bonnet chairs, I fell into a more automatic and trance-like way of making —not dissimilar to that of the Shaker trances and production processes during the Era of Manifestations, an early 19th-century period when the Shakers were in communication with the spirit world. The end result became a silly, frilly duo of cloaked and bonnet-ed chairs joined in a permanent Shaker dance.”
Fringe Selects is on view at 17 Main Street in Chatham beginning December 11th. Opening hours are Friday through Sunday, from 11:00 to 6:00. Admission is free.
The exhibition has a complementary digital experience in partnership with Design Miami/ on the Shaker Museum YouTube channel. “In the Work: Makers and Shakers”, a discussion featuring Katie Stout and Shaker Museum Executive Director Lacy Schutz can be viewed below.
With more than 18,000 objects, Shaker Museum stewards the most comprehensive collection of Shaker material culture and archives. It is the leader nationwide among organizations devoted to Shaker history. Its permanent new facility in Chatham, NY designed by Selldorf Architects is estimated for completion in 2023. The museum also stewards the historic site in New Lebanon, New York and has a campus in Old Chatham, New York, which is open year-round by appointment, where the administrative offices, collections, library, and archives are housed. The museum’s collection can be viewed online at http://shakermuseum.us
Katie Stout (b. 1989, Portland, ME) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Stout is regarded as one of the leading designers of her generation and is known for utilizing a diverse range of media and unexpected techniques to create works ranging from sculptures to furniture. Her works have been exhibited nationally and internationally and are in the permanent collection San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Dallas Museum of Art and the Museum of Art and Design in New York. She has been featured in T Magazine, the New York Times, Apartmento, Artforum and numerous other publications.