Working with the theme of “What we need is here,” young Canadian artist Dona Park of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C. was commissioned to illustrate the logo and banner for the Women Doing Theology webinar series for Mennonite Church U.S.A.
Explaining her artwork, Park says, “I always incorporate elements of flora, as I believe humans are connected and dependent to the natural environment. I chose a Black woman, a person of colour, to represent that the Mennonite entity is not limited to the white community. Many perspectives in the Mennonite church exist, and within it there are untold stories: painful ones, persevering ones and empowering ones.”
Park further cites the context of social unrest today, including “countless unnecessary deaths of Black lives, and the lack of listening to the poor and oppressed.”
Park interpreted the theme as identifying the existing power within the self rather than seeking it elsewhere.
“I wanted to highlight the existing struggles within the Mennonite institutions, particularly on racial injustices that BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, people of colour] regularly face systemic oppressions, and that there are leaders who have worked to challenge and create change within this very community,” she says.
“To interpret it literally, there are political leaders who also have instigated change—but there are also people within our Mennonite churches and communities, particularly women on the margins, who have worked and continue to work to address the issues at hand.”
Park believes that the art she creates is an expression of who she is, as well as her experiences and relationships from people all over the world.
“Most of my art focuses on the female experience and highlights the beauty of female figures,” she says.
“Historically, the narrative of art, particularly female portraiture, has been told under the male gaze. In the present, I aim to challenge that to do the opposite, telling the story in my own perspective: instead of objectifying, I aim to empower.”
To prioritize participants’ safety and wellbeing, Women in Leadership moved to an online series of webinars this fall as an alternative to the in-person conference originally slated for November.
Making art ‘like breathing’ for B.C. illustrator