Installation view of “Bronx Heavens,” with (foreground) Cosmos Gate, 2022. Photo: Argenis Apolinario

Felt History: A Conversation with Abigail DeVille

Abigail DeVille lets objects reveal America’s invisible histories. Her recent solo shows in New York—“Bronx Heavens” (Bronx Museum of the Arts, 2022–23), “Original Night” (Eric Firestone Gallery, 2022), and “In the fullness of time, the heart speaks truths too deep for utterance, but a star remembers.” (JTT, 2023)—demonstrated her unflagging ability to create passionate visual mash-ups of history, poetry, drama, and dreams. Recognizing the potential of cast-off things to tell stories and bear witness, she proposes an expanded, social role for sculpture (often combined with performance and collaborative projects), drawing us into a complex universe where art and life meet.

Jan Garden Castro: “Bronx Heavens” included works made from your grandmother’s bed, her vodka and perfume bottles, and her cigarette butts, as well as a Lunar Capsule where visitors could record past, present, and future stories; Black Monolith, a glowing phone box-sculpture with headphones, allowed others to listen to the stories. How are memorabilia and oral and written histories central to your practice?
Abigail DeVille: I think we learn through stories. We’re taught stories early on; this is how we learn morality, ethics, or whole belief systems. There are infinite ways in which we understand or ingest information. I’m interested in a felt history versus something methodical, didactic, or easy to digest—whole worlds are rendered invisible through systematic decision-making by individual players very high up; it’s been happening over centuries. . .

. . . Subscribe to print and/or digital editions of Sculpture to read the full article.