Date of Award


Access Restriction

Research Projects

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Marital and Family Therapy

School or College

College of Communication and Fine Arts

First Advisor

Debra Linesch


This project examines the meaning-making of art through multiple disciplinary lenses: Art Therapy, Art History, Studio Art, Art Education and Anthropology. Disciplines were selected for their inherent ability to enhance an understanding of meaning-making through the art making process and art product. An arts-based methodology was utilized in conjunction with the Outliers and American Vanguard Art exhibition at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which featured a juxtaposition of formally trained and self-taught artists. Each of the five researchers selected a piece of art included in the exhibition, rendered the piece, documented the rendering process, and viewed each piece and its accompanying documentation from their respective disciplinary lenses to understand meaning-making of the original artist and their work. Results of this systematic investigation exposed common themes across disciplines that inform meaning-making: Culture, Context, Comparison, Communication, Formal Elements, and Accuracy. Through an understanding of elements that comprise each exposed theme, the discipline of art therapy can expand its theoretical and practical knowledge that currently informs its approaches toward the meaning-making of art. Results of this arts-based investigation imply that continued investigation of adjacent art and culture-centric disciplines can question, corroborate, and supplement existing assumptions about the meaning-making of art process and art product in the discipline of art therapy.