Pacifica continues to respond to COVID-19 - Click here to read updates on campus access and course delivery for upcoming quarters. (Click here for FAQs.)

Dissertation Title:

Re-Assembling the Self: Embodying Shame through Assemblage Art


Deborah Elizabeth Cluff

Date, Time & Place:

December 19, 2015 at 3:00 pm
Studio, Lambert Road campus


Links between shame and art making have been felt, intuited, and examined but have not been sufficiently documented in depth psychological studies. This research explores the relationship between creating assemblage art and shame; effectively asking: can assemblage art help to re-assemble the self? The study surveys depth psychological conceptions of shame, art, and the role of creativity in healing; contemporary and historical shame ideologies, and recent psychobiological studies on shame; as well as assemblage art history and processes. This conceptual framework is attended by the researcher’s heuristic inquiry into shame and assemblage art making concluding with an interpretative phenomenological analysis. The participant study focuses on how participants negotiate the relationship between shame and art making in a workshop setting. Research data was primarily collected through pre- and post-workshop questionnaires designed to determine the participants’ prior shame experiences related to art making. The population consisted of eight participants: five females and three males between the ages of approximately 30 and 55. The participant study confirmed that for most of the participants shame is triggered when engaging with unfamiliar physical and psychic material in the art making process; however, despite negative self-evaluation, creating in a communal space was an overall positive experience. As demonstrated by the participant responses, it could be argued that healing did occur to a greater or lesser extent on a subjective per participant basis.



This is due to Pacifica’s conditional use permit, which restricts campus parking. Please call 896-1887 or 896-1888 for a shuttle pickup from the Best Western. A Pacifica shuttle driver will pick you up within 10 minutes or so and take you to the campus.

Thank you for your kind consideration

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Emphasis in Psychotherapy, Track T, 2009
  • Chair: Dr. Allen D. Koehn
  • Reader: Dr. Lori Pye
  • External Reader: Dr. Chandra Alexandre
  • Keywords: Shame, Depth Psychology, Assemblage Art, Creativity, Art Therapy