Thesis Title

Viewing the AIDS Memorial Quilt: A Study on Empathic Attitudes and Behaviors, Social Advocacy and Art Therapy

Graduation Date

Spring 2015

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form

Print

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy

Dean

John Lemmon, PhD

First Reader

Jennifer Harrison, PsyD, DAAETS, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Abstract

The objective of this research study is to understand the impact of viewing The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt on the empathic attitudes and behaviors and motivation for social advocacy towards people living with AIDS. 41 participants independently viewed a 12 feet by 12 feet block of The Quilt displayed in Gellert Library at Notre Dame de Namur. Participants completed surveys, created a piece of response art and responded to reflection questions about the viewing experience. Results of the study found a statistically significant increase in participants’ attitudes and behaviors and motivation for social advocacy towards people living with AIDS after viewing I he Quilt and creating response art. Qualitative interpretive phenomenological analysis of participants’ reflection questions reported themes such as self, death. AIDS knowledge/awareness, remembrance/memorial, empathy and aesthetics. Analysis of participants' response art revealed thematic imagery including graphic empathy, hearts, rainbows, relationships, nature, animals and red ribbons. Results from this study may be helpful for art therapist clinicians working with individuals or communities affected by AIDS-related issues.

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