Typing at the keyboard, Shina Park, a senior art major with a minor in journalism, works away at another graphic design project. “Just one second,” she says and I peer over her shoulder to view her online artwork. Park’s hands are always busy, whether it is doodling with a pen or clicking the mouse on a new creation.
“I’ve always loved to create, and art is something that I am confident about,” says Park, fingers stained with ink as she fiddles around with a Micron 5mm pen. “Two big important things that have inspired me personally are music and art. Music helps me appreciate God, as I hear God through music. Art, though, helps me appreciate life.”
“Art is integral to my identity,” said Park. She notes that she doesn’t know what specific direction she will take with art, but continually mentions how art gives a sense of purpose in her life and affirms what she believes.
When asked who her favorite artist is, she gives a faux groan. With a laugh, Park answered, “While attending college, there have been two influential artists who have shaped my senior exhibition.”
The first she mentions is the French street artist JR, a man whose large-scale photography installations have gained tremendous fame around the world. “He gives visual social critiques and that’s a theme I want to play with. Art is an instrument of change,” said Park. Director of the documentary “Born into Brothels,” Zana Briski, is another empowering figure that Park looks up to.
Park strives to use her artistic capabilities to bring awareness to social issues at Goshen College. This spring, she will be displaying her works of art in the March senior exhibition. “My works are very direct and the form will be through bold colors and simple geometric shapes to tell the audience, ‘Look at me. Pay attention.’”
What will the audience be paying attention to?
“Comfort women,” stated Park. “Comfort women” is the euphemism for the sex slaves of the Japanese Imperial Army during the early 20th century, during the World Wars. These women are still alive today, but have yet to gain compensation and apology from the Japanese government.
Park wants to use art as a vehicle for social change through a bold visual statement. With a somber tone, she has emphasized that there are so many stories to be told with art.
“If that’s not sufficient, I don’t know what is,” said Park.