Platform: Devin Kenny, Ash and Spirits
Temporary Public Art | Installation + Collaborative Sound Work
The Moody’s Platform series brings temporary, site-specific projects to campus by inviting artists to respond to artworks, architectural structures, and research at Rice University. Since launching in 2017, the artists commissioned for the Platform series are Jarrod Beck, Rana Begum, Nina Katchadourian, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Edra Soto, and We Make Carpets. Kenny’s installation will be sited at the center of campus, opening on October 12 and closing after May 1, 2024.
Devin Kenny, Ash and Spirits, 2023
Scaffolding, iridescent paint, plywood, commercially manufactured signs, near-field communication (NFC) tags, and audio.
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 Almendarez, Maria Chavez, Megan Easely, Lisa E. Harris, Michael LaCour a.k.a. B L A C K I E, Anthony Obi a.k.a. Fat Tony, S Rodriguez, and Ricky Sallay Zoker f.k.a. YATTA. Visitors can access these scores by holding their smartphones near the NFC tags and following the playlist.
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 our collective history of inequity and the ongoing struggle for social justice, together with possibilities for new modes of engagement.
Platform: Devin Kenny is organized by Alison Weaver, Suzanne Deal Booth Executive Director, and is made possible by the Moody Center for the Arts.