Smita Sen: The Manipura Sanctum

Central Library
Lobby Gallery
Smita Sen’s Manipura Sanctum is a uniquely considered space to accommodate healing and communion, meditation, and aesthetic pleasure. The Manipura Sanctum was born from Sen’s book, Manipura: Of Flowers and Bones, and considers the various registers of healing that might unburden us from the isolation of illness, reframing illness and healing as conditions of reciprocity and togetherness.

The Sanctum consists of an installation with bright yellow carpets and a cascade of metal bowl sculptures, drawing upon vernaculars of sacred architecture and healing, and equally to the formal opportunities of artmaking through digital technology. As part of the installation, Sen has created 3-D printed biomorphic sculptures. With these 3-D printed sculptures, Sen gives shape to stories of caregiving that she has gathered from people in her life, adapting organic forms such as fossils and bones to describe the contours of caregiving, mirroring the symmetries of dependency and support, how we hold each other up. The project is not limited to this physical space of the sculptures; it is linked to “the labor of generating public wellness” and to the notion of caregiving as a necessarily communal act. Participants are invited to hear and share stories, amassing an alternative archive on health and sociality set in our current moment. Through guided experiences, the centerpiece of Manipura Sanctum offers a space of respite and connection in the Library’s Grand Lobby.

Acompanying programs will be announced soon, as well as participating guest facilitators, healers and artists.

Smita Sen:The Manipura Sanctum is presented in partnership with Recess, where the project was presented in 2021

“In the last months of my father’s life, our family was absorbed in a whirlwind of hospitals, doctors’ visits, and at-home caregiving. My father had a complex and unusual illness that was not well understood by doctors. With the rapid changes in his health, we were forced to confront the limits of modern medicine and to untangle the complexities of the American healthcare system. I found myself asking a very fundamental question: What is healthcare? What does it mean to ‘care’ for the ‘health’ of someone else?”

– Smita Sen


Saturday, April 23rd, 3-4:15pm Exhibition Finale: Artist Smita Sen in Conversation

Sunday, April 3, 4-4:30 pm: Trina Basu & Smita Sen: Rituals of Sacred Surrender

Saturday, February 26, 2-3:45 pm: Creative Writing Workshop: Poet danilo machado and Artist Smita Sen (Click link to Register; Registration required)


About the Artist

Smita Sen is an artist working with sculpture, dance-based performance, and advanced technology to research how the body internalizes its environment and significant life events. With installations, Sen attempts to reimagine sites of care and creates environments for the body to enter states of meditative healing. Sen’s work has been shown at venues like Bard College, Flux Factory, Anthology Film Archives, the Knockdown Center, and ISSUE Project Room. Sen was a fellow at the Mildred’s Lane residency (2018) and received the Instigator Fellowship from NYU ITP Camp (2018). She has served as a Visiting Artist at the Bard College Disturbance Lab and has given talks and workshops at Columbia University, Bard College, NYU ITP Camp, and LRLX NY. Sen is a graduate of Columbia University. 

*Pictured: Sarah, sculpture from Manipura: Of Flowers and Bones. Silver metal mixing bowl, yellow flower petals, and ceramic cast form assembled by Smita Sen part of The Manipura Sanctum; Portrait of Smita Sen by Ally Caple.


Preview the Exhibit