Nene Humphrey has exhibited in numerous museums and galleries since coming to New York in 1979. Exhibitions include the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX, Mead Museum, Amherst, MA, Palmer Museum, PA, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, Sculpture Center, PS1 Contemporary Art Center and the Lesley Heller Workspace, New York, NY.

Humphrey has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Rockefeller Foundation, Brown Foundation, and Anonymous was a Woman among others. Her work has been written about in numerous publications including The New York Times, Art in America and ArtNews and Sculpture Magazine.

Since 2005 she has been artist in residence at the Joseph LeDoux neuroscience lab at NYU where her work has focused on explorations of the brain mechanisms underlying human emotions.

Nene Humphrey’s multidisciplinary artworks combine drawing, sculpture, performance and video to depict a seemingly infinite space of emotion and memory as it is processed in the brain. As a focal point, the brain is a site where which external stimuli are filtered through the webs of its biological and psychological systems. This integration of art and science is fundamental to Humphrey’s practice. As long-term artist-in-residence at New York University’s LeDoux Lab she collaborates with scientists, who have directly contributed to her artworks. Using the lab’s microscope and camera lucida, Humphrey draws cross-sections of the brain’s intricate amygdala, an almond-shaped mass with thousands of neurons: the powerhouse of human emotion. These vibratory and energetic drawings result in dense, layered, chaotic lines. Coming together and breaking apart, Humphrey’s thin black marks—resembling thread or hair—mimic the amygdala’s systems of energy and communication. Humphrey also incorporates such disparate elements as the buzzing hum of the brain’s neural/ electrical activity and the recorded whistling chirp of rats serenading each other in the lab. She integrates these elements—the scientists’ works, her drawings, and recorded sound—into performance video, and installations. These works are often deeply personal and immerse their audiences in tangled narratives.

One of these collaborative projects, Circling the Center, a meditation on grief, has seen multiple iterations of video, installation and performance since 2009. After the loss of her husband in 2006, Humphrey struggled with the solitude of her studio practice and the need to find a deeper, more personal articulation in her work. Searching for visual expressions of grief, she stumbled across the Victorian art of mourning braiding—a popular craft that acknowledged loss by gathering mourners around circular tables to intricately braid the hair of the deceased, plaits which they turned into memorial jewelry. She was struck by how this act turned stark solitary grief into unified beauty and by the startling visual similarities between the braids and her drawings of the amygdala.

A 2013 interview reveals Humphrey’s thoughts, “I wondered what would it be like to create a community of people and braid together. How could animating my drawings or using film as a collage device amplify the scientific and emotional processes I was exploring? Could sound from the neuroscience lab and the communal braiding process become a powerful compositional element, weaving in and out of the visual layers?”[1] In Circling the Center Humphrey has been following these questions in live performance, video and installation; fusing science, art, music, and craft; turning grief into beauty. Hyperallergic reviewed the 2016 performance at 3LD Art & Technology Center, “Watching the performance feels like peering into a stranger’s dark, interminable dream. And as with dreams…It’s an abstract narrative—a montage of evocative images, sounds, and choreography that comes together to create a striking visual metaphor for grief…” [2]

From this last production came the opportunity to rework Circling the Center independent of its live performative element while still bringing the audience inside its ritualized space. This installation, Transmission (Circling the Center Series), at Lesley Heller Workspace examines the products of grief. It represents a moment where the ritual has ended, but the processes of mourning remain in the nebulous space of the brain. Here, in the absence of ritual, rewired mechanisms continue churning and memories linger.

[1] Humphrey, Nene, interview with Nancy Davidson, “Surrender to Something Dangerous: A conversation between Nancy Davidson and Nene Humphrey”, artcore b(log), Volume 2, Issue 1: Women, July 21, 2013. [2] Dunne, Carey, “A Performance where Victorian Mourning Braiding Meets Neuroscience”, Hyperallergic, New York, October 13, 2016.



Selected Solo Exhibitions/Performances:


2018   Transmission, Lesley Heller Gallery, NY

2017   Fieldwork, Performance, in collaboration with Ramona Todoca, Rudolf, Costin, Catherine McCurry, McNay Museum, San Antonio, TX

2016    In Center, Video Gallery, Lesley Heller Workshop, NYC, NY

            Circling the Center, Performance, Directed by Mallory Catlett, 3-Legged Dog Art and Technology Center, NY

2014   if you were to peer into the mourner’s skull, performed at BRIC House Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2013   New Directions Series, Carriage House Theater, Montalvo Art Center: Circling the Center Performance: Saratoga, CA
           Lesley Heller Gallery, NYC
           Proteus Gowanus, Circling the Center Video and Panel in collaboration Dr. Joseph LeDoux, Brooklyn, NY
           Dixon Place Theater, NYC: Circling the Center Performance           

2011   McNay Art Museum, Frost Octagon Video Gallery, San Antonio, TX
           Circling the Center Video Performance, Kentler International Drawing Space, Brooklyn, NY

2010   Sharadin Art Gallery, University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown, PA

2009   Pinnacle Gallery, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA

2009   Lesley Heller Gallery, New York, NY

2007   Lesley Heller Gallery, New York, NY

2005   Islip Art Museum, Long Island, NY
           Ogden Museum, New Orleans, LA

2004   Pei Ling Chan Gallery, Savannah College of Art & Design, Savannah, GA*

2002   Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MO
           Kiang Gallery, Atlanta, GA
           Ogden Museum, New Orleans, LA
           Breneau University, Gainesville, GA

1999   Katonah Museum, Katonah, NY, curated by Susan Edwards*
           Sandler Hudson Gallery, Atlanta, GA
           Salem College Art Gallery, Winston-Salem, NC  

1998   Colorado University Art Galleries, Boulder, CO, curated by Susan Krane   

1996   Sandler Hudson Gallery, Atlanta, Ga.*essay by Nancy Princenthal

1993   Halsey Gallery, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, traveling to University of Florida, Gainesville, FL*      

1992   Winthrop Gallery, Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC
           Sandler Hudson Gallery, Atlanta, GA

1990   McIntosh Gallery, Atlanta, GA

1988   Waterworks Art Center, Salisbury, NC
           Sculpture Center: Gallery Two, New York, NY

1986   Alternative Museum, Matrix Gallery, New York, NY, curated by Jane Farver

1985   Allen Priebe Gallery, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, WI*

1984   Haggar Center, St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN

1983   Emily Lowe Gallery, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

1981   55 Mercer Gallery, New York, NY

Selected Group Exhibitions:

2017    Sentimental Ornamentation, curated by Michele Bosak, Fed Gallery, Kendall College of Art and Design, Ferris State Univ., Grand Rapids, MI
            Post Election, curated by Kate Gilmore and Kristen Dodge, September Gallery, Hudson, NY

2016    Well Travelled, Rush Arts Corridor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
            Splotch curated by Eileen Jeng, Lesley Heller Workspace, NY

2015    Sampling, curated by Dara Meyers-Kingsley, Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York, NY
            A Random Meander, Robert Henry Gallery, Bushwick, NY

2014    Sleuthing the Mind, curated by Ellen K. Levy, Pratt Manhattan Gallery NY
           This Music Crept By Me upon the Waters, Lesley Heller Gallery, New York, NY
           Bric Biennial Downtown Edition, Vol.1, BRIC Arts Media, Brooklyn, NY
           Gowanus Artists, Old Stone House, Brooklyn, NY

2012   Full Spectrum: Prints from the Brandywine Workshop: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
           Emergence & Structure, Grossman Gallery, Lafayette College, Miami Dade College, Miami, FL, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL*
           Seeing Ourselves, Muse/Center of Photography and The Moving Image, New York, NY*

2011   Migrations, Proteus Gowanus Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
           An Exchange with Sol Lewitt, curated by Regine Bash Cabinet, Brooklyn, NY and Mass MoCa, North Adams, MA
           Marked Differences, curated by Roberta Wadell, Brooklyn, NY
           Myself, Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery, University of Nevada, Reno, curated by Marjorie Vecchio*

2010   ArtPark: 1974–84, UB Art Gallery, Center for the Arts, SUNY Buffalo, NY*
           The National Academy of Design Invitational Exhibition, New York, NY
           Anatomical /Microbial /Microcosms, Central Booking, Brooklyn, NY

2009    The Last Book, curated by Luis Camanzer, National Library of Argentina, Buenos Aires, Argentina

2008    Works on Paper from the Contemporary Collection, High Museum, Atlanta, GA

2007    Radius, Metaphor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
            Phenomenal Spaces, Cleveland, OH

2006    Some Assembly Required: Extreme Evolutions, Mead Museum, Amherst, MA*
           181 National Academy Invitational, New York, NY*
           Threads of Memory, Dorsky Gallery, New York, NY*
           Couples Palmer Museum, Univ. of Pennsylvania, PA*

2005   Traveler, Dalton Gallery, Agnes Scott College, Atlanta, GA
           Three Points of View, Heriard-Cimino Gallery, New Orleans, LA

2004   Thinking in Line - A survey of Contemporary Drawing, University Gallery, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville. Curated by John L. Moore & Ron Janowich*
           Striking Comparisons, Museum of Contemporary Art, Atlanta, GA
           Reduce/Reuse/Rexamine Rotunda Gallery, New York, NY

2003    Site/Insight, PS1/MOMA, New York, NY Curated by Agnes Gund  
2002    Nene Humphrey, Mary Campbell, Art Resources Transfer, New York, NY
            Sew Fine Islip Art Museum, East Islip, NY Curated by Karen Shaw*
            Domestic Traces, Dorsky Gallery, New York, NY (Three-person exhibit) Curated by Margaret Matthews-Berenson*
            Prints from the Vermont Studio Press, Robert Hull Flemming Museum, Burlington, VT                     

2001    Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba

2000    Months and Moons, ACA Gallery, New York, NY
            Nene Humphrey/Benny Andrews: The Art of Family, Ogden Museum, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, and The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville,                       CT Curated by Rick Gruber*

1999    Head to Toe: Impressing the Body, University Gallery, Univ. of Mass. Amherst, MA Curated by Donna Harkavey and
             Margaret Mathews-Berenson
             Millennium Messages org. by SITES, Washington, DC traveling to Everson Museum of Art, NY, Miami Univ. Art Museum, FL, Heckscher Museum of Art,                    Huntington, LI, Curated by Bobbi Coller*

1998    Nene Humphrey, Grace Knowleton, Workspace Gallery, New York, NY curated by Lesley Heller

1996    Close to Home, Lehman College Art Gallery, Bronx, NY*
            The Art Exchange Show, Denise Gordon Co., New York, NY

1995    Essence and Persuasion, the Power of Black and White, Anderson Gallery, Buffalo, NY
            Object Lessons: Feminine dialogues with the surreal, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA, curated by Jeffrey Keough
            and Ann Wilson Lloyd*
            New South, Old South, Winthrop University Gallery, Rock Hill, SC   
            In Three Dimensions: Women Sculptors of the 90's, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Staten Island, NY*             

1994    Project Room Installation with Ellen Driscoll, Threadwaxing Space, New York, NY
            Fabricated Nature, Boise Art Museum, Boise Idaho and traveling*                
            Sculpture Southeast, South Carolina Art Museum, Columbia, SC*

1993    Idiocognito, OIA/Police Building, New York, NY and William Patterson College, Wayne, NJ*
            Drawings from 55 Ferris Street, curated by Frederike Taylor, Jessica Berwind Gallery, Philadelphia, PA and Wynn Kramersky Gallery, New York, NY   

1992    55 Ferris II, 55 Ferris Street, Brooklyn, NY, curated by Frederike Taylor, essay by Nancy Princenthal*
            Art on Paper Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro NC*
            Embracing the Void, Valencia College, Orlando, Florida. Curated Judith Page*

1991    Stark Contrast, Trenkmann Gallery, New York, NY
            Art of Our Times, High Museum, Atlanta, GA Curated by Susan Krane

1990    Sculptor's Drawings, East Hampton Center for Contemporary Art, Long Island, NY. Curated by Jennifer Cross*
            The Art of Drawing, Lehman College, Bronx, NY. Curated by Jane Farver*
            Recent Acquisitions, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
            Small Works, Cast Iron, Sculpture Center, New York, NY
            Work on Paper: Contemporary American Drawings, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA*
            Collector's Exhibition, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR

1989    Lines of Vision. Drawings by Contemporary Women, Hillwood Art Gallery, Long Island University, Brookville, NY
            Blum Helman Warehouse, and traveling internationally. Curated by Dr. Judy C. Van Wagner*
            Objects/Figures, East Hampton Center for Contemporary Art, East Hampton, NY. Curated by Jennifer Cross*
            Installation, Nexus Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, GA
            Nene Humphrey/Phillipe Bent, Leslie Cecil Gallery, New York, NY

1988    Scale (small), Rosa Esman Gallery, New York, NY
            Sculpture as Companion, Henry Feiwel Gallery, New York, NY
            Group Show, John Davis Gallery, New York, NY
            Black, Grey, White, Henry Feiwel Gallery, New York, NY
            Sculpture'88, White Columns, New York, NY
            Selections, Siegeltuch Gallery, New York, NY

1987    Three Sculptors, AIR Gallery, New York, NY
            The Blue Angel, Longwood Arts Center, Bronx, NY, traveled to Space 111, Birmingham, AL and AIR Gallery, New York, NY*
            Small Scale Sculpture/Large Scale Sculpture, Atlanta College of Art, Atlanta, GA*

1987    Nature into Form, Oscarsson Siegeltuch Gallery, New York, NY

1985    Earth, Water, Light, Interart de St. Amand Gallery, New York, NY
            The Totemic Impulse, Gallery Schweitzer, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

1984    Sculptors Drawings, Sculpture Center, New York, NY             

1983    Sculpture, Greene Space Gallery, New York, NY traveled to Visual Arts Gallery, SUNY at Purchase, New York*                 

1982    Sealed Orders, Mercer Union Gallery, Toronto, Canada

1981    Ambiance/Stimuli, Alternative Museum, New York, NY*              
            Ritual and Landscape, Touchstone Gallery, New York, New York

1980    Inaugural Show, Touchstone Gallery, New York, NY

1978-9 Group Show, Touchstone Gallery, New York, NY

Public Commissions:

1984    Passages, Haggar Center, St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN
            Red Road for Atlanta, Piedmont Park, A.A.F., Atlanta, GA

1983    Roadrise/Resting Space, Art on the Beach, Battery Park, New York, NY, sponsored by Creative Time, Inc.
            Unending Roads, Mitchel Field, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

1981    Meadow Passage/Forest House, Morris Museum, Morristown, NJ*

1980    Enclosed Garden/Landscape, Artpark, Lewiston, NY*
            Four Mountains for a Grove of Trees, Ward's Island, NY, sponsored by A.R.E.A.*

Grants and Awards:

2016    Agnes Gund Foundation for Performance Development, New York, NY

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, University of PA, Kutztown, PA

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

2008    Patricia and Jerre Mangione Fellowship, MacDowell Colony, NH

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, GA

1986    Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, Bellagio, Italy                                                 

1983    National Endowment for the Arts, Individual Artist Grant

1982    Karolyi Foundation Fellowship, Vence, France

1978    MacDowell Colony Fellowship, NH            


M.A. Goddard College, Boston, Massachusetts 1972
B.A. St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana 1968
M.F.A. York University, Toronto, Canada 1978

Teaching Experience/Visiting Artist

Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
New York University, New York, NY
University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD
Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT
Goodman Banks Visiting Artist, Kingswood-Oxford School, Hartford, CT
University of Connecticut Graduate Program, Storrs, CT 2000
Rhode Island School of Design, Visiting Artist 2000
Rhode Island School of Design: Graduate Program Sculpture. 1999
Massachusetts College of Art Visiting Artist, 1999
Brandeis University, Visiting Artist, 1999, 2001  
Hunter College, Visiting Artist 1999
Vermont College of Norwich University, Montpelier, VT Graduate Program 1998
Advisory Panel Member: Rencontres Choregraphiques International/Danspace, New York, and NY 1997
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ Visiting Professor: Sculpture 1998
University of Colorado, Boulder, CO Visiting Artist, 1998
Massachusetts College of Art, Visiting Artist 1995

Parsons School of Art and Design, New York, NY 1992-1998
College of Charleston, Charleston, SC Visiting Artist, 1993
Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT Visiting Artist, 1992
Valencia Community College, Orlando, FL Visiting Artist, 1992
Winthrop College, Rock Hill, SC  Visiting Artist, 1992
University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, WI Visiting Artist, 1985
Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Visiting Artist, 1984

Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, NS, Visiting Artist, 1982
Illinois State University, Normal, Ill. Visiting Artist, 1982
St. Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY Courses taught: Sculpture I and II, Three Dimensional Design,” Body as Metaphor”(sculpture). 1982-1998
Art in Public Places Program Consultant, Washington State Arts Commission, Seattle, Wash., 1981-82
Art Instructor: McDougall Center for Boys, Brooklyn, NY and Manhattan Psychiatric Hospital, Ward’s Island, NY 1979-80.
Art Workshops developed for social workers working with disturbed children at Rhode Island State Hospital and Westerly Art Center, Westerly, RI, 1974-79

York University, Toronto, Ontario, and Instructor: Foundations course for freshman (drawing, sculpture, painting), 1977-78
Creative Arts Workshop, New Haven, CT Instructor: Drawing, Design, Sculpture, and grant writing for special funded projects with inner city youth.

Selected Public Collections:

Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, TX
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Carlos Museum, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Robert Hull Fleming Museum, Burlington, VT
The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Wilfredo Lam Contemporary Art Center, Havana, Cuba
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta, GA
Ogden Museum, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
Morris Museum,Morristown, NJ 
Haggar Center, St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN

Best Products Inc. Sidney Lewis Collection, Richmond, VA
Herb and Dorothy Vogal Drawing Collection
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Washington University, St Louis, MO
McNay Museum, San Antonio TX
Xavier University, New Orleans, LA