to Aug 20

Opening Reception Photos and More on Installation - In Gallery until Sept 27, 2019

  • Merrimack College Thagaste Gallery Rogers Center for the Arts (map)
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In appreciation…

Thank you for all who joined us for the opening reception of Balik Kampung - A Village Return - the mixed media installation currently at Merrimack College’s Thagaste Gallery in the Rogers Center for the Arts. It shows through September 27, 2019.

The opening was a tremendous success in that participants told us it was deeply moving and provocative - causing them to consider the power of cross-cultural sharing in the day-to-day. Some have followed up asking if the installation could travel and I might speak with their group. The installation includes: photos, film, mixed media collage, and spoken word. The spoken word element is ongoing - created from community installation events. Its foundational piece was created at the opening reception and captured on video three former exchange students from 1977, my Malay host sister, and others from the audience-participant community speaking about the impact of cross-cultural sharing. (Videos of all speakers will be posted here soon but excerpts can be found on YouTube:

Video 1

Video 2

This is very exciting as this is more than a one-time installation. It is a launch of an initiative that provides an invitation to open up spaces for dialogue about cross-cultural sharing and growing understanding of our differences and our universal humanity.

I am sharing some photos. Videos will be added soon! Contact me if you would like a pdf version of the installation booklet guide that includes an artist statement and descriptions of the work.

Please contact me if you are interested in discussing this further. I look forward to your comments and collaboration in creating meaningful dialogue together!

VIDEO NOTE: If the video is not on while you are visiting, please go to the desk and ask them to turn it on for you. Thank you.

Parking: Visitors parking is in the lot adjacent to the Rogers Center for the Arts (the installation is in the main lobby of this building) as well as across Walsh’s Way by the Dunkin Donuts and Merrimack College Bookstore. There is a third lot to your right after you pass the Rogers Center for the Arts, with it on your right.



Phone: 978-604-0830


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4:00 PM16:00

Balik Kampung - A Village Return - The Opening Reception

Balik Kampung: A Village Return

A Mixed-Media Art Installation

 NORTH ANDOVER August 16, 2019, 4 to 6 PM        An opening reception at Merrimack College’s Rogers Center for the Arts, Thagaste Gallery, launches Balik Kampung - A Village Return, a mixed-media art installation. Join us in exploring the life-long, cross-cultural, love affair between Andover resident and Merrimack College alumna, Emily Kearns, and her Malaysian host family, with whom she lived for one year as an American Field Service (AFS) foreign exchange student in 1977. 

Their special relationship is brought to life through photos, film, collage, and storytelling. The installation celebrates the power of cross-cultural experience to impact our lives and generations to come. It invites and incites us to consider and remember the universality of our human experience.

Through this poignant mixed-media rendering, you will experience the richness of a love cultivated over 40 years between a then, 16-year-old Catholic American girl and an extended Muslim, Malay family, who opened their hearts and home as they lived together in a Malay village.  Emily recently returned to the village in July 2018 and ethnographically celebrated and filmed their love and gratitude through whole-family, multi-generational storytelling, feasting, and more.  Running August 16 through September 2019.  To learn more, visit or email


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