Thesis Title

Huichol Yarn Painting as an Art Therapy Intervention to Promote Insight in Latino Children

Graduation Date

Fall 2003

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


Lizbeth Martin, PhD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Gwen Sanders, MFT, ART-BC


Mexico is known for its richness in history, tradition and art. One particular group of people living in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico known as the Huichols (pronounced Wee-chol), have proudly sustained their indigenous ways for over a thousand years. The Huichol Indians created an art form know as a yam painting that is made by pressing colorful yams into softened beeswax that is applied to a wood panel. These yam paintings depict various symbols and are created as a way to honor the history of the Huichol people.

This thesis looks at the history of the Huichol yam paintings. It examined its current use among the Huichol and Mexican cultures and looked at how it can be used with Latino children to promote cultural awareness, self-awareness and pride.

A group of 31 elementary school children were asked to create a yam painting and answer questions pertaining to cultural awareness, self awareness, and pride in the final product. There were a total of 20 students that participated in the interviews. Only these 20 students had their yam paintings photographed and included in this thesis to show and discuss recurring themes in the imagery. The results of this research concluded that the Huichol yam paintings can be an effective art therapy intervention that can be used with Latino school age children