Performances Dates & Times:
October 13 - 15, 2016
8pm | Studio A

At 3LD Art & Technology Center

80 Greenwich Street, NYC | Studio B

by Nene Humphrey

All tickets $20

Circling the Center is a story of making something beautiful out of grief—told via a visceral fusion of neuroscience, visual arts, music, and the 19th century communal craft of Victorian mourning braiding.


A choir accompanies a cellist, a woman weaves shimmering red wire, and performers sing a lament in this expansive synthesis of science, art, and emotion.


The multidisciplinary work began as a private meditation on a personal loss and grew into communal art making with deep and surprising connections between the neuroscience of emotions and the lost 19th century craft of ritualistic, intricate Victorian mourning braiding. These objects were created to honor and remember loved ones, acknowledging the depth of loss, and transforming grief into something that was beautiful.


Humphrey’s artist residency at the Joseph LeDoux neuroscience lab at NYU provides a unique perspective on the neuroscientific process of mourning through examination of  the internal biological workings of the amygdala, the emotional processing part of the brain. Filmic simulations, drawings made from microscopic brain studies and aural recordings are overlaid throughout the work.


The story unfolds in a non-linear fashion, through layering of sounds, still and animated film, and communal making. It weaves filmic images of animated MRIs, electronic circuitry and mourning braiding with sounds of rats serenading each other in a lab, metronomes, chanted Victorian braiding pattern instructions: “Jump one to make a set of three, pick up the center, jump one to make pairs”, and fragments of a poem written by Tom Sleigh for the piece:


“Why does he only come back to her in fragments,

a head floating above a not quite present

body, or just a close up of his hand?

Why does he keep vanishing into wave-bands

of electrons, staticky flashes…"


Circling the Center is told from multiple points of view: the personal experience of loss and grieving, the performers enacting the 19th century ritualized actions of mourning braiding, and the singers/ musicians giving 'voice' to both biological and psychological aspects of grieving. It celebrates the transformative power of making.


Concurrent with Humphrey’s 3LD residency/performances, the Lesley Heller Workspace will exhibit related video and drawings in their Video Gallery at 54 Orchard Street, New York, NY.


Prior Awards or Nominations


2012 Montalvo Artist Fellowship, Montalvo, CA

2010 Agnes Gund Foundation Grant for Video Production, New York, NY

Artist Residency Grant for project production, Sharadin Art Gallery, Univ.of Pa, Kutztown, Pa

2009 Brown Foundation Fellowship, Dora Maar, House, France, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX

2007 Smithsonian Institution Artist Research Fellowship

2003 Asian Cultural Council Artist Grant

2001 Berkshire Taconic Foundation Individual Artist Grant

1999 Anonymous Was A Woman Award

         Hambidge Center, CRG Corporation Fellowship, Rabun Gap, Georgia

1986 Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, Bellagio, Italy

1983 National Endowment for the Arts, Individual Artist Grant

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