The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Rowena Man blends artwork and feminism

In her artwork created for Off-Brand: A BHS Feminist Zine, junior Rowena Man highlights famous female figures in history.

Flipping open Off-Brand: A BHS Feminist Zine, a student is greeted by visuals of women dancing and flying, full of joy. Many of the prints that fill the pages were diligently drawn by junior Rowena Man.

Man started contributing to the Zine in 2023 in an attempt to get back into art after an art slump. Man was recommended to try the Zine, the student-led feminist magazine at BHS by her friend and senior Sophia Perucchi, a member of the Zine. Since then, she has been contributing reliably every month.

Man said that she discovered early on that she loved to draw. From when she first picked up a pencil, she was encouraged by her parents to keep drawing and improving. She said her style reflects the shows she watches.

“I really like watching shows or cartoons and anime,” Man said. “I do real-life sketches, too. It’s just like my personal style is more cartoonish. I was also really into a lot of anime. I feel like the things I watched would help me develop my art style.”

Man said she wasn’t always confident in her ability to draw and that she struggled through an art slump for over a year in which she didn’t finish any pieces.

“I was very tired. I wasn’t in the mood to draw as much. I didn’t know if I wanted to go to art college or something. I also had a bunch of other doubts, which really contributed to me being like, ‘Should I maybe take a break from drawing for a while?’” Man said.

Man stopped painting and drawing just before the pandemic. During the pandemic, she scrolled through numerous art accounts on Tiktok from younger artists. Man said she was starting to feel like she was falling behind.

Before long, Perucchi approached her. Man quickly agreed, grabbing her iPad, curling up in bed and beginning to draw again.

Man sent in all sorts of beautiful artwork for the magazine, according to Perucchi.

“There was one for our first issue she sent in, which were a bunch of different famous women throughout history, a bunch of different leaders throughout history, and they were all featured on this really beautiful collage of faces,” Perucchi said.

Since starting to contribute to the Zine, Perucchi said Man has worked closely with another one of the members, senior Madeleine McLaughlin. McLaughlin said that Man tends to contribute pieces that feature women in many different roles.

“I feel it challenges everyone to redefine feminism a little bit,” McLaughlin said. “It kind of just challenges me to be like, ‘what makes a woman strong?’ ”

McLaughlin said Man has a lot of potential in art, and is an excellent colleague to work with. Most of all, Man’s own enthusiasm is why she started drawing again.

“My favorite part of the process is probably just when I have an idea. And then I can actually transcribe that onto a page,” Man said. “Sometimes it doesn’t work as well. But when it does work, it feels so satisfying.”

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