Katie Stahl and Lucy Gross, co-founders of SAGE Studio, a dual studio and gallery space that provides Texas-based artists with with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) the materials, space, and support to produce, exhibit, and sell their artwork

Our artists work in a variety of mediums, including drawing, painting, weaving, paper sculpture, and puppet-making

Tell us about your upcoming exhibition (if applicable):
Our current show is a food-themed group exhibition, All You Can Eat, that will be up through 7/6. This show features the work of eight artists: Rick Fleming, David Sulak, Jackson Sutton, Anna Burke, Charlie French, Elijah Giorgi, Sam Eiler, and Gav Sears.

What are you working on now?
Once our current show closes, we will start working with our studio artists—who create art in our studio with Lucy and I acting as facilitators—on work for our next show, Road Trip, which will open in late September. We are also constantly looking for new artists to represent in the gallery.

What draws you to do what you do?
Katie: I enjoy getting to be a part of our artists’ creative process, and am drawn to the clarity of each of our artist’s voices. I also love introducing new audiences to the work of our artists and challenging people’s expectations of what work by artists with disabilities looks like. Lucy: I love getting to bring two communities that I’m passionate about together, and forging connections between people who might not otherwise have met.

How long have you been an artist and/or curator and how has your practice changed over time?
Katie: I started making and selling art under the name Houndoggle Art in 2010, but I have been painting similar subject matter (i.e., dogs wearing clothes) since I was a kid. I began working as an art instructor in 2011 at the Arc of the Arts, another program in Austin that serves adults with IDD, where I eventually met Lucy and the idea for SAGE began to take shape. Lucy and I started SAGE in 2017, working with one artist out of Lucy’s dining room, but our goal was always to bring the work of artists with IDD to a broader audience, so in 2018 we rented a 8’ x 20’ refurbished shipping container in East Austin, which we use as both a studio space and a gallery space. Lucy: I am not a practicing artist, but have been drawn to outsider art from an early age and started supporting the artistic practice of others over six years ago. In our work at SAGE, Katie and I think of ourselves as facilitators, rather than instructors.

In your opinion, what does the Austin arts community need as the city continues to grow?
With Austin real estate being what it is, we’d love to see increased utilization of and support for nonconventional gallery spaces, and increased visibility of new voices working outside the realm of traditional contemporary art.

Lucy Gross is a practicing social worker with over ten years of experience working with adults with disabilities. She is currently employed through AISD’s Go Project, a transitional program for special education students ages 18–22. She also works at The University of Texas in their inclusion program for adults with disabilities. She earned her undergraduate degree at Emerson College and her masters of social work at Texas State University.

Katie Stahl is a practicing artist with over nine years of experience working with adults with disabilities. She has a BA in psychology from Dartmouth College and a Masters degree in art education from the University of Texas at Austin. In her own art practice, Katie primarily paints animals, using humor and whimsy to convey the unique spirit of her subjects. She has been named the Best Pet Portrait Artist in Austin by Austin Pets Directory, and her work has been displayed at numerous venues around Austin, including Art for the People Gallery and West Elm.

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