The Multi-Hyphenate Renaissance Woman
Who run the world? Es Devlin. As her work as one of the creative minds behind Beyoncé’s enthralling Renaissance Tour stage portal proves, the London-based artist is just as much a Renaissance woman as Queen Bey herself. Es does it all, from stage and set design to powerful sculptures and immersive experiences that tease one’s body and mind into new worlds and experiences. She’s even teamed up with the Google Arts & Culture team to extend a previous poetry project of hers online via an ambitious new AI algorithm. Her ever-growing list of diverse ventures — such as serving as creative director for the Emmy-winning 2022 Super Bowl halftime show featuring Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem and more — comes as fast and furious as those rappers’ rhymes. And they land just as powerful a punch through her inventive use of light, music, language, visuals and emotion. We’re not the only ones who think so. Starting this fall, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum will present “An Atlas of Es Devlin,” documenting 30 years of her work.
Is there anyone Es Devlin hasn’t designed an otherworldly set for? From the Metropolitan Opera to the London Olympics, Adele to U2, she’s done it all. Her latest stadium feat: An apocalyptic cityscape for The Weeknd’s After Hours ‘Til Dawn Tour. Es also conceived Your Voices, commissioned by Moët & Chandon as a celebration of cultural connection. Installed at New York’s Lincoln Center in 2022, the result was an open, glowing globe of 700 chords, each representing a language spoken in NYC. Guests entering the beautiful and ethereal soundscape were bathed in a tapestry of recorded quotes in each language and, on selected evenings, live choirs would further bring the piece to life. A year earlier, in response to Miami’s rising sea levels, Es created The Forest of Us for Miami’s immersive art museum, Superblue. The installation starts with a three-minute video through a forest of trees (actual and bronchial) and leads to a mirrored labyrinth that reflects not trees, but ourselves.