Artist Rachel Emenaker speaks speaks three languages. Dutch, Russian, and English all reflect her global education — from her childhood in Suriname attending a Dutch international school to spending her high school years in Moscow, Russia. It was her father’s work as a bush pilot that took the family around the world.
After graduating with a BFA in painting from Biola University, Rachel went on to work and live in Armenia, a country she has come to care deeply about along with the influx of Syrian refugees. She is engaged in rebuilding cultural programs as well as bringing conversations about feminist perspectives.
“Where there is oppression or war, the first thing to go is art and culture,” Rachel explained.
Rachel’s painting and mixed media artwork draws from the mythologies and textile works of traditions around the world. Her intent is to explore globalization through abstract art.
Her parents are now living in the Boise area and Rachel returned home for a bit of a break. Before long, however, she met a Boise State University (BSU) professor who had just begun the Idaho Museum of International Diaspora — the first museum of its kind in the world. With Boise’s status as a Sanctuary City, the museum is a celebration of the 111 diaspora groups that have emerged there.
The professor quickly recruited Rachel to be the senior curator and director of global alliances. While the museum prepares to open a physical space in a few years, Rachel is already coordinating an array of public events and a study abroad collaboration with BSU.
Not quite finding the rest she was looking for, Rachel thought that perhaps she needed a retreat at a monastery. After a quick internet search not only did she discover St. Gertrude’s just four hours north, but also its artist-in-residence program. She was delighted with the synchronicity and spent most of January as an artist-in-residence.
“The sisters are so kind and open-minded,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect but it’s even better than I hoped for.”
Jonas Kulikauskas spent a week in early January as an artist-in-residence. He is an interdisciplinary artist who offers perspectives on communities, institutions, and traditions. A son of Lithuanian refugees, he is inspired by his heritage, fatherhood, and faith.
While at the St. Gertrude’s, Jonas worked on a project that aims to illustrate the teachings of Jesus. During his presentation to the sisters he also shared photos of a Lithuanian parish in Los Angeles, images of a trip to Lithuania, and photos from a train trip to visit his immigrant grandmother in Chicago.
Kulikauskas has exhibited nationally and internationally, including a solo museum show at the historical Presidential Palace Museum, M.K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art, Kaunas, Lithuania. His most recent project, Yosemite People, culminated in an award-winning book, is scheduled for a national museum tour in 2020, and has been entered into the permanent collection at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian. Kulikauskas has been a part-time faculty member of ArtCenter College of Design since 2002 where he twice received the Samsung Faculty Enrichment Grant.