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A first Artist in Residence at Equitas

Over the summer 2022, Equitas welcomed its first artist in residence, Jean Manuel Doran Penafiel, a young and enthusiastic artist from Montreal. He took an art class at Cégep de Rosemont, studied in Environment and is currently studying human sciences at Cégep de Maisonneuve.

His internship had two main objectives: to support Equitas to integrate artistic elements in the office spaces to visually reflect the mission, vision and values of our organization, and to integrate art into a public event we held in July. One of the main objectives of having an artist contribution was to see relevant topics in a different way. The idea was to incorporate art elements that can be as much as beautiful as thought-provoking and informative.

After a short period of training and discussing his work plan, he got to work!

Jean Manuel comes from a family of professors and human rights activists. His father is Chilean, and so from a young age, Jean Manuel learnt a lot about the history and struggles of the country. These topics are his sources of inspiration.


Reflecting on key issues we work on

He started his work at Equitas by reflecting on key issues we work on and how to represent them visually and meaningfully. He did a first drawing about gender equality on a round wood panel. Proud of the effect, he decided that his other artworks would also be in round shapes and that this would be the trademark of his contributions to Equitas. Another style that came back often throughout his pieces for Equitas was his way of using one continuous line that shapes into faces, words and symbols.

Staff learning event

His next task was to create signs for an internal learning event, each subject that was going to be discussed was in a particular room: environment and human rights, decolonization, gender equality and more.

International Learning Event

In July, Equitas hosted an International Learning event where we welcomed twelve of our international partners from Kenya, Tanzania, Haiti, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Tunisia to talk about the lessons learned and the good practices for advancing gender equality through human rights education. Together with Equitas’ employees, we spent five days talking about ways of improving our actions and Jean Manuel prepared some posters to collect inputs for a collective memory project.

International Learning Event

At the end of the week, Equitas held an event with our partners, donors, funders, employees and more at the Centre for Sustainable Development in Montreal. Here, Jean Manuel put in place the highlight of his internship: he prepared and conducted a collective work of art to be hung in the office. With a big round wood panel on a table, acrylic markers and lots of imagination, the canvas was filled with messages, images, names and symbols. The objective was for all participants to have the opportunity to express their involvement in human rights education and opinions in an interactive and participatory way.

International Learning Event


For the event, Jean Manuel also prepared 100 little round wood tablets where participants could draw something and keep it as a souvenir or give a message to someone else.

Identify the different rooms in our office

The last part of his internship consisted in painting signs to identify the different rooms in our office. We have three rooms named after important personalities in Equitas’ history: Charlot Jeudy, activist for LQBTQI+ rights, Thérèse Casgrain, feminist activist and co-founder of Equitas and John Humprey, lawyer and co-founder of Equitas. He painted their portraits to hang outside the meeting rooms and to help keep their legacy alive. He also did some artwork for other meeting rooms in our office, called Mont-Royal East and Mont-Royal West, so, now created paintings that represent both sides of the mountain.

Workshop with Equitas employees

To conclude his internship, Jean Manuel held a workshop with Equitas employees where he taught participants to draw symbols of gender inclusion, raised hands as a symbol of social change, and portraits with only one continuous line.

His two-month internship was a big success for him and for Equitas, as much as first job experience in his domain as all the artwork and learnings that he left at the office.

We wish him a bright future and a continuation of his passion for art with a meaning!

Our objective of having a different view of human rights education in an artistic way that touches the hearts was accomplished!