Platform: Devin Kenny, Ash and Spirits

Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 | Installation + Collaborative Sound Work on Loop Road

October 12, 2023 – May 04, 2024
Loop Road Across from Herring Hall
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Platform: Devin Kenny, Ash and Spirits, 2023

Scaffolding, iridescent paint, plywood, commercially manufactured signs, NFC tags, and audio

Commissioned by the Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University


Devin Kenny’s Ash and Spirits invites viewers to engage with historic concepts of monumentality during this time of social and political change. A scaffold coated with iridescent paint is mounted with commercial signs, featuring both standard worksite warnings and the artist’s reflections on the life of William Marsh Rice (1816–1900), the slave-owning merchant who bequeathed his fortune to found Rice University.

The physical experience of walking under the scaffold is activated by a collaborative sound work, available to visitors through suspended near-field communication (NFC) tags. Kenny commissioned eight composers with strong connections to Houston to create original works for the project: Anthony Almendárez, Maria Chavez, Megan Easely, Lisa E. Harris, Michael LaCour aka B L A C K I E, Anthony Obi aka Fat Tony, S Rodriguez, and Ricky Sallay Zoker aka YATTA.

Visitors can access these scores by holding their smartphones near the NFC tags, which will automatically open the playlist on their browser.

While the scaffolding visually echoes current construction projects on campus, the sound elements explore emotional registers connected to themes of change. Experienced together, the physical sculpture and the audible album invite visitors to consider collective histories of inequity and the ongoing struggle for social justice, while imagining new modes of engagement in the future.

The Moody’s innovative Platform series brings temporary, site-specific projects to campus by inviting artists to respond to artworks, architectural structures, and research at Rice University. Platform: Devin Kenny is organized by Alison Weaver, Executive Director, and is made possible by the Moody Center for the Arts.


About the Artist

Devin Kenny (b. 1987, Chicago, IL) is an artist, writer, musician, and independent curator. They received a BFA from Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (2009) and an MFA from the New Genres department at UCLA (2013). Kenny is currently a dPhil candidate at the University of Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK.

Kenny’s cooperative practice has led to collaborations with the Bruce High Quality Foundation University, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, SOMA México, as well as projects created together with DADDY, pooool, Studio Workout, and Temporary Agency. Kenny has performed at various art and music venues in the U.S. and abroad, including: Recess, Brooklyn; Julia Stoschek Foundation, Berlin; Artspace Aotearoa Auckland; REDCAT, Los Angeles; MoMA PS1, New York; Performance Space New York; The Kitchen, New York; and the Queens Museum, New York. Kenny is an alumnus of the Whitney Independent Study Program and the Core Residency Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Kenny currently lives and works in Brooklyn.