Hidden Drives: The Scene and Unseen of Home

“Hidden Drives: The Scene and Unseen of Home” is a public humanities collaboration between the Mead Art Museum and the five fellows in residence at Amherst College’s Center for Humanistic Inquiry (CHI) in 2019 – 2021. The fellows have come to the CHI from different fields and disciplines to conduct research and collaborate with each other under the rubric of the theme “home.” Over the course of 2020, the fellows explored a collective interest in how our perceptions, experiences, and routines of home are controlled by forces that might be invisible to some while intensely felt by others. As they concluded their work together during the pandemic, they created this collaborative online exhibition to share nodes of intersection among their research and spark connections and meaning among students, scholars, and the Mead’s general audience who would be “visiting” from within their own homes. 

This collection of essays, interviews, and recipes, centered around artworks—including many from the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College—helps visitors discern these hidden sites and stories and uncover how the unseen plays a pivotal role in scenes of home. What happens to our sense of home when we start to pay attention to hidden stories—our own and others’? 

Hidden drives are invisible paths to dwellings unseen, to residents whose identities and histories are unknown to the average passerby. Hidden drives can also be invisible because they are internal. Inculcated ideas, ingrained systems and structures, deep-seated memories, secret aspirations: These hidden drives influence how we navigate our world, how we see ourselves, how we stage our story.