This review studies the methods used in the article Homeless adults engagement in art: First steps towards identity, recovery, and social inclusion by Yvonne Thomas, Marion Gray, Sue McGinty, and Sally Ebringer. The aim of their exploratory study was to gain an understanding of the ways art engagement helped benefit homeless people. I found this study’s dissection of data collection and analysis helpful in the efforts to better understand my research topic on art engagement across a variety of settings and mediums.


Though their participant pool of four homeless adults was small, I appreciated their ethical decision to exclude certain participants. The authors wrote,

Initial plans to include up to eight participants were modified when it became clear that the level of disability experienced by the participants, specifically acute psychosis and cognitive impairment, meant that some intended interviews were neither appropriate nor ethical, (2011, p. 431).

Additionally, measures were taken for triangulation, which meant the inclusion of three stakeholders: the Facilitator, the Drop-in Center Manager, and a nurse. Their plan is making me question how I will triangulate my data.

Semi-structured and conversational interviews were conducted to explore the four participants experiences. Questions revolved around participants’ artwork, how participants became involved and the perceived benefit of art. The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim.

Data were coded into key concepts per each participant’s interview. Then coded data was compared and contrasted to be grouped into categories. Each author reviewed the data for accuracy and reliability. Finally, three themes and sub-themes emerged.

Beginning to engage and participate

  • Getting started
  • Attendance and motivation
  • Continuity through doing artwork

Seeing the benefits

  • Process of discovery
  • Decision making/moving forward
  • Diversion from alcohol and other addictions
  • Relief from mental health issues

Respect and public recognition

  • Mutual respect and recognition
  • Cultural inclusiveness and respect
  • Public acceptance

In regard to my research theme and questions, our goal is to show how our questions can be answered through a variety of art forms and in any setting. I am looking for trends across a variety of cultures and demographics to see how art affects people’s involvement in various capacities. Our research questions:

  • What are the affordances and limitations of engaging with art?
  • How do the tools and practices allow/contribute for the creation and sharing of the art?

Art engagement with the homeless group in Australia, demonstrated many benefits and the only limitation was not having a larger participant pool. The results showed that the creation of art forms for display and sale was allowing the participants to not only share their art, but learn to reintegrate into and begin to trust society. This study was helpful in that it can be applied across all the settings of my larger research team.


Ebringer, S., Gray, M., McGinty S., & Thomas Y. (2011). Homeless adults engagement in art: First steps towards identity, recovery, and social inclusion. Austrailian Occupational Therapy Journal, 58(6), 429-436.

Photo Credit

Meek, Begging for change 2004