In a laudatory July 4 profile, the Jakarta Globe singled out Rachel Cooper, Director of Cultural Programs and Performing Arts at Asia Society, for her efforts as a performance arts presenter in bringing the arts of Indonesia to U.S. audiences.
As the article explains, Cooper's engagement with Indonesian culture dates back to when she studied there at the age of nineteen. She has been delving deeper into Indonesia's performing arts tradition ever since, even living in in the country for five years in which she "collaborated with theater, dance and music groups and forged relationships with the country's leading artistic talents."
"These are partnerships that go back decades," Cooper tells Globe reporter Titania Veda. "And I think that's very meaningful. What's really important to me about my friends in Indonesia, or my colleagues in Indonesia, is that we’ve been able to create lifelong friendships. You know you are connected for life."
Today, among many other projects, Cooper heads Asia Society's multidisciplinary initiative Creative Voices of Islam in Asia, hoping to bring about cultural understanding between the U.S. and Muslim-majority countries through the power of art.
As she explains in the article, "The arts provide a lens, a way in to understand people, to feel people, and I really want to share something that I think imbibes deep value and great craft and the deepest capacity of human beings to create art."
"And if you can share that and then use that as a way to talk about culture, differences and similarities — in some ways, I think it's more memorable than reading a book or seeing a movie. There is something that hits you in your body memory, in your heart."