Nicole Emanuel: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

Photo Credit: Cameron Gee

On October 24, the UMKC Women’s Center will be hosting an event titled Women Who Lead in the Arts, a panel discussion that will feature local, leading women in arts careers.  Leading up to this event, the Women’s Center blog will highlight each of the women who will be involved in this unique discussion. Today, we focus on Nicole Emanuel.

If there’s one artist on the panel whose personal and family history plays like something out of a Hollywood movie, it would be Nicole Emanuel.  I don’t think I can do it justice in just one blog article, so I definitely invite you to check out her “About Me” page on her artist’s website.  As a little preview of her family history, there’s mention of a patricide trial in late 1920s Austria, an escape from Nazis in the 1940s, and a pair of great-uncles who rubbed shoulders with the likes of Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, and Isaac Stern, just to name a few.  Beyond that, you’re going to have to check out the site on your own!

What is clear beyond Emanuel’s historical roots in art, however, is how she uses those roots as well as her own experiences in life to inspire her own art, no matter what form it may take.  The 2008 murder of her nephew lead her to create a series of tri-state events known as “Sorry for the Miscommunication: Museum of the Streets,” which included street artists and gallery artists from Chicago, Kansas City and Madison cooperating in a collaborative mural, performances and exhibitions.  Another murder, this time of her great-grandfather, was the impetus for Emanuel to pursue her Masters Degree at UMKC with the goal of writing about her family. Her forthcoming book, titled “Memoraphilia: a granddaughter’s memoir, the life of Jewish artist and storyteller Liouba Golschmann,” centers on her grandmother and weaves through many of the seemingly impossible events in her family’s history.  Emanuel’s ability to use the painful stories of her own life and her family’s history to create art is a poignant reminder of the power of art.

Emanuel’s “current obsession”, as she calls it, is the InterUrban ArtHouse (IUAH) here in Kansas City.  Established in 2011, this Non-Profit organization is dedicated to purchasing and renovating an under-utilized industrial building into affordable, stable art studios, community exhibition/event space and sculpture garden with some of the area’s preeminent artists and craftspeople.  The mission of IUAH, as stated on their website, is “to enrich the cultural and economic vibrancy of the community by creating a place where artists and creative industries can work and prosper in an affordable, sustainable and inclusive environment.”

On a more personal note, Nicole Emanuel is a 1996 graduate of the local Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI), where she received her BFA in Painting and graduated as that year’s KCAI Valedictorian.  She has created 20 large-scale murals and 2 large-scale public sculptures since then. While her paintings and drawings are in numerous corporate and private collections in New York, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas and Missouri, Emanuel considers her greatest creative works-of-art to be her own sons.  We are delighted to have Nicole Emanuel join us for this panel and look forward to having her share even more of her unique experiences as a woman who continues to lead in the arts!

The Women Who Lead in the Arts panel discussion will take place on October 24 at 1:00-2:30 p.m. in the Miller Nichols Library, Room 325, 800 E. 51st St.  This event is free and open to the public.  For more information or to RSVP, contact the Women’s Center at (816) 235-1638 or visit