Thesis Title

Retablos: The Tradition of Painting the Tragic, The Miraculous, and Art Therapy Applications with Latino Adolescents

Graduation Date

Spring 1998

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


Retablos are paintings on tin created to honor that which inspires, to commemorate a miracle, or to make a wish. This traditional Mexican art form is rich with history and possibilities for healing. This thesis examines the history of the retablo, how it has been used by modem artists, and how it can be used with Latino adolescents to foster cultural awareness, self awareness, and pride. A total of 42 Latino students in two ESL (English as a Second Language) classes created retablos and answered questions surrounding the themes of cultured awareness, self awareness, and pride in final product. 31 of these students were interviewed to reveal core meanings for the experience. The artwork was then examined for both recurrent imagery and the range of imagery. The results of this research support the utilization of retablos as an art therapy intervention with Latino adolescents.