Jan – Mar 2020: “Illuminations” featuring Rachel Cunningham & Emma Westbrook

"Illuminations" Exhibition featuring Rachel Cunningham and Emma Westbrook

January 3 - March 2 | Michael Phipps Gallery, 1st Floor

Rachel Cunningham captures cloudscapes from the physical world and paints them into impossible skies, filled with striking geometry, at once peaceful and electric. Emma Westbrook mixes the information technology of the Renaissance - print, paint, paper, thread - with the perspective and the tools of the digital age to recreate its familiar imagery from impossible angles. Both artists work freely across a line between real and imaginary in "Illuminations" - look closely for the details in Emma’s deconstructed self-portraits and traces of the natural light and color assembled into Rachel’s sweeping canvases. 

Join OPL for a casual discussion and hear the story behind the artists' visions at 5 p.m. The aim of this exhibition is to connect the community with local art in the free, familiar, and accessible context of their library.

See the artists' statements below for more information on their artistic expression. For price lists or contact information, please inquire at the circulation desk on the first floor of W. Dale Clark Main Library.

Artists' Statements:

Rachel Cunningham

Clouds can often be the only view of nature from a city window. Regardless of the attention we devote to the sky, we are all connected in that it inspires our imaginations. Clouds are constantly moving and changing, evolving and never static. They fill the sky with many moods, colors and textures, and I am continually captivated by sunlight filtering through the clouds.

Each painting combines three or more photos of the sky, which have been my source for color and shape. I show contrast in the flat edges found at the bottom of puffy cumulus clouds, and emphasize the hard rays of sun that stream through the gaps: columns of sunlit air separated by darker cloud-shadowed regions. This selective collaging allows me to create impossible weather events that align with my emotional connection to their display.

For me, there is incredible peace of mind whenever a moment is taken to focus on the present and stare at the clouds.

Emma Westbrook

Certain of my works use found imagery from medieval and early renaissance printmaking in contrast with more contemporary digitally-based images to explore the way information dissemination has changed. Considering the differences between manuscript culture and the digital age, I use real and imaginary figures to represent the strange and sometimes funny ways we consume and access information.

Other works are concerned with a fraught relationship to the body, depicting a portrait of my body by showing its absence in the arrangement of bedsheets after waking up in the morning, or associating discorporate body parts and quotidian objects in an attempt to create a more meaningful and personal self-portrait.


This exhibition was crafted by the artists. The exhibitions at the Michael Phipps Gallery at the Omaha Public Library are dedicated to displaying and contextualizing local contemporary art in a public space. We encourage you to spend time in reflection and conversation around these works.

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Omaha Public Library