Created by Nene Humphrey, Directed by Mallory Catlitt
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.