Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Restricted Access (SIA Only)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Contemporary Art

First Advisor

Morgan Falconer

Second Advisor

Judith Prowda


While it is broadly understood that there is an important and useful relationship between trauma and art therapy, this essay claims that the nature of that relationship is largely a function of time, context, perspective and circumstance. All the artists discussed who were Holocaust survivors experienced a compulsion to draw even at the risk of losing their lives, but they were each compelled for different reasons. In examining the art produced in the concentration camps, the driving factor is a need to attempt to re- humanize in the face of horrible brutality. Those artists drawing after liberation are most focused on bearing witness and working through the elements of their personal trauma. Artists with no direct personal connection to the Holocaust other than their nationality were attempting to tackle the cultural trauma that afflicts both the transgressor and the victim. There is a clear temporal relationship between these various forms of healing and ongoing study will help indicate the most effective means of tackling the problems that continue to arise from overwhelming trauma.