Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2021

First Advisor

Jayashree George

Second Advisor

Megan Robb

Third Advisor

E. M. "Shelly" Goebl-Parker


Discussion about death, known as death discourse, has been historically limited to the confines of the palliative care, elderly and hospice arenas (Bradshaw, 1996; Granek, 2013; Safrai, 2013; Zimmerman, 2012). This study examined the impact of artmaking on facilitating death discourse in college-aged students from a midwestern United States campus. A mixed methods design was implemented in which participants completed the Communication Apprehension about Death Scale (CADS; Carmack & DeGroot, 2016), an artmaking directive addressing feelings about death, followed by a Post-Artmaking Reflection about their artwork. Following a 10-day time period after the artmaking session, participants were re-administered the CADS electronically, and questioned about their thoughts and patterns concerning discussion of death since the artmaking directive. Quantitative analyses of CADS scores from both sessions revealed an overall decrease in scores after making art about death. A thematic analysis of all artwork and essays created by the participants revealed themes of feeling conflicted emotions regarding death, with visual art featuring circles, human figures, and dark saturated colors most prominently. Findings suggest that apprehension levels discussing death can be decreased through artmaking and that artmaking could facilitate discussions surrounding death.