Embodied drawings as expressions of distress among impoverished single Bedouin mothers. Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper demonstrates how marginalized, Bedouin, single mothers define pain through different depictions of their bodies and their embodied experience. Using visual data generated through an empowerment group with single Bedouin women living in the Negev, illustrative pictures were selected. The potential of drawing as an indirect, but deeply communicative symbolic vehicle with which to express the women's pain and struggle as marginalized and impoverished women is demonstrated through themes that emerged from a content analysis of the women's art and their verbal comments about what they had drawn. A central theme identified pain due to painful life circumstances, rather than due to inherent sickness or weakness. Other themes identified included the body as a site for cultural transition, power negations with men, intellectual development, and the struggles of motherhood. This shows how the visual depiction of pain on the page offers a socially critical, yet potentially mental health promoting medium that locates women's distress, not as the result of personal and physical weakness, but as the result of social oppression. The implications for the use of art with socially marginalized women are discussed.

publication date

  • May 1, 2008