Connecting identities through drawing: Relationships between identities in images drawn by immigrant students

Beauregard, C.; Papazian-Zohrabian, G.; Rousseau, C. (2017)

The Arts in Psychotherapy

56 | 83-92

Immigration is extremely stressful and has an impact on children’s identity construction. When immigrating, children must make sense of the changes they experience in order to develop a flexible and plural identity. Schools can foster this meaning-making process by promoting the creation of bridges between home and school social markers. These bridges allow movement between different aspects of students’ identity and account for multiple identity configurations. One way to promote connections between identities is to offer creative expression activities within classrooms. When drawing, children project their inner feelings onto images through symbols and identify to elements of their drawings, which contribute to their identity construction. In this paper, the authors rely on data obtained from immigrant children’s drawings and interviews to present three identity expression strategies put in place in their drawings: protective withdrawal on the identity of origin to allow movement between identities, mastery of globalized youth cultural identity and neutralization of identities. These strategies reveal the relationship between identities, particularly between the cultural identity of origin and that of the host culture. One strategy, the protective withdrawal on the identity of origin to allow movement between identities will be illustrated by the case of a young Chinese boy.