An innovative tobacco-awareness curriculum, Artful Truth–Healthy Propaganda Arts Project, designed and implemented by The Wolfsonian–Florida International University, has made a measurable, positive impact on the 3,000 Florida students who participated in the art education program, according to an evaluation prepared by Burhans and Curva Associates, a Tallahassee-based survey research and analysis firm specializing in health and social services. The report was commissioned by the University of Miami’s Office of Tobacco Control, Research and Evaluation Coordinating Center with funding from the Florida Department of Health.
The Artful Truth curriculum, which recently finished its second year, is geared toward fourth- through sixth-grade students. It introduces students to the concepts of “visual literacy,” whereby students analyze the role played by signs, symbols, logos, and type styles in advertising. “The program activities are intended to heighten student awareness of the communicative intent of images in their environment,” notes the Burhans and Curva report. “The underlying assumption of Artful Truth is that making students more sophisticated and critical consumers of the advertising images in their environment will provide them with the tools to deconstruct and resist the appeals of tobacco advertising.” The Burhans and Curva evaluation addressed “the program’s effectiveness in transmitting new knowledge and skills in interpreting the messages contained in visual images and the effect of the program on participants’ attitudes toward tobacco and tobacco use.”
Some of the key findings from the study are:
Truth–Healthy Propaganda Arts Project was funded by the State’s
Division of Health Awareness and Tobacco from its landmark
settlement with the tobacco industry in 1997. It provides participating educators
with an Instructor Resource Portfolio, including lesson plans keyed to the
Florida Sunshine State Standards, as well as training, supporting materials,
and financial resources. A student workbook, “Blast from the Future,”
containing hands-on art activities, helps students to develop a conceptual
framework and vocabulary for understanding the messages conveyed in visual
images and design.
Numerous objects from the museum’s collection, including period posters and advertisements, were used in the curriculum to demonstrate how persuasive messages can be delivered by a variety of forms.
Commented Cathy Leff, Director of The Wolfsonian–FIU, “We were thrilled to have the chance to not only work with Florida educators and students and the Office of Tobacco Control on such an important endeavor, but also to demonstrate how our collection and expertise can serve K-12 education.
This year Artful Truth provided funds to 49 projects in public schools, museum, after-school, and other community programs. An exhibition of some of the student projects created in this year’s program is on view through August 13 at the Tampa Museum of Art. The artworks also will be on accessible through the program’s website,
A copy of the full Program Evaluation Report is available on request