Seated at the help desk in Wyse 3, Dona Park graded history homework as she answered questions. A woman of many disciplines, Park is a senior Art and History double-major with an English minor. Beyond that, she is involved in leadership for the International Student Club, Social Reform Club, Student Senate, Art Club and Campus Ministries.
For Park, there is a direct correlation between her varied interests and artistic inspiration.
“I’m inspired by so many things,” she said. “There is a new bee species that have beautiful nests with all of the colors… they use flower petals to create their nests. Looking at that inspires me. Or just walking through a park and seeing fern leaves too, that’s awesome. I like details.”
She also talked about the relationship between the visual arts and other types of artistic expression.
“If you find one artist, it connects you to other artists,” she said. “So when I browse through the internet and find artists, they lead me to other influences, like musicians, and different illustrators.”
Growing up in a family that values religion, music, and art, it is not surprising that Park can find artistic truth in lots of different mediums. Her mother, a professional singer, and father, an entrepreneur and writer, encouraged Park and her sister (‘15 GC grad, Shina Park) to experiment with their hands and peruse creative interests.
As children they visited many museums and were inspired by time spent with their aunts, who are also artists. Park also recognizes the influence of her sister on her artistic journey. Park laughs when she remembers back to kindergarten when “Shina would have a really good illustration of people, and then right next to it is a really crappy version, and everyone knew that it was me.”
Despite her playful beginnings, Park has grown into a determined artist. In her studies, she is currently focusing on colored inks and ceramics, though she enjoys many mediums.
One thing that worries Park is the way the term “art,” is often painted with too broad a brush. “People are like, ‘anyone can become an artist,’ and that makes the whole art realm easy to obtain. But we need that pride to say our work is an investment.”
As with any area of study, excellence takes time and practice, and art shouldn’t be excluded from this mentality. Park also notes the need for “creative spirit” to be taken seriously at Goshen College.
“Studying art takes lot of investment and time, and I hope this college recognizes that we need a creative spirit,” she said. “This doesn’t just apply to visual arts, it applies to music and theater too. Having people interested in art is saying something. It’s saying that we’re not always focused on being job-oriented. We need to keep on creating something that nurtures us mentally too.”
For Park, art fills a need for catharsis.
She said, “I think that even if I didn’t pursue art [in school], I would still do it. It’s kind of a therapy thing for me. It’s really therapeutic for me because I can take my mind off of other things and focus. It’s not a choice to do it. I have to do it.”