NAYA | Empowerment through art: Defying societal expectations and norms

One of the most engaging and modern ways of empowering and advocating is art. NAYA interviewed three women who, through their art, try to break stigmas and stereotypes.
by Danah Kaouri

1 April 2019 | 13:36

Source: by Annahar

  • by Danah Kaouri
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 1 April 2019 | 13:36

Photo shows Rawand Issa illustrating her comics

BEIRUT: According to an article published by The Artwork Archive, art techniques are a way to express one’s concerns. Those techniques can also offer messages of hope and shift or shape public interests.

Exemplary works of art that changed perceptions would be Frida Kahlo’s. The historical icon defied beauty norms by embracing her own features that were considered “masculine.” Kahlo’s artworks tackled the female body’s biology and experiences. Those included pregnancy, miscarriages infertility, and mensuration.

Another example of historical pieces that impacted the world would be those of Leonardo Da Vinci’s, which studied the fetus. The both scientific and artistic piece contributed to changing the way artists and scientists study the human body.

One of the most engaging and modern ways of empowering and advocating is art. NAYA interviewed three women who, through their art, try to break stigmas and stereotypes.

Christian Atik is an illustrator who uses societal quotes with negative connotations and turns them into positive and empowering illustrations.

“Sometimes I have trouble clarifying my ideas, this is where my art comes in and helps me,” she told Annahar. “I always made art for a purpose. Whenever I draw something I make sure it has meaning.”

The artist explains how she always tries to push herself out of her comfort zone.

“When I was younger I had a lot of trouble understanding myself,” Atik said. “And so, my drawings are a way to empower myself and other people around me.”

Atik’s recent works focus on appreciating Arab beauty, discussing the notion of freedom, and on examining abuse.

“A lot of people who go through abuse are scared to talk about it,” notes Atik as she explained why she adopted this topic in her art.

Alongside Atik, Rawand Issa also expresses herself and tackles social issues through art. For her, art can be social, political, and a way for documenting history. Issa merged her background in visual communication and journalism to get her ideas across.

“I like using comics because it focuses on characters. In comics, it’s important to make the characters’ emotions and expressions clear,” said Issa.

Through her art, Issa discusses issues that are not often given attention to.

“There are specific roles that men and women are supposed to follow in a relationship, so I like to talk about relationships to break those stereotypes,” she said.

Razan Wehbe is another artist that uses art as an empowering mean. She started to develop her skills when she was 14 years old.

“It was just a hobby until I became a graphic design and visual communication student at university. I started using my illustrations as a way to express my thoughts and opinions freely,” Wehbe told Annahar. “Art is a great resource that captures best what I am thinking of, reaches as many people as possible, and raises awareness over certain issues.”

Being a women’s rights advocate, the artist focuses on sending subtle messages through her art about beauty standards.

“I try to be as diverse as possible by including women of different backgrounds, I want to show that women don't exist to be beautiful but, to be who they want to be,” Wehbe added.


Welcome to “Naya,” the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment. We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. Naya is devoted to women of all generations- Naya Editor, Sally Farhat:

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