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Art students deliver signs of health

May 5, 2014 11:30 AM

Keith Brannon

Forget brochures. Tulane University art students have a bolder way to remind patients at the Ruth U. Fertel/Tulane Community Health Center to eat less sugar and get more exercise.  

Adam Mysock, Mariana Altman

Adam Mysock and Nicole Fisher hang paintings made by students in a service-learning class to brighten the walls of a community health clinic while conveying positive health messages to kids. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

They created a colorful, hand-painted sign in the lobby that reads: “You’re the only sugar I NEED” above a selection of healthy fruit. Nearby is another with Keith Haring-style dancing figures: “Walk. Run. Dance. Every Step Counts.”

The paintings are part of a series installed last week to brighten the walls of Tulane-affiliated community health clinics and to engage patients with positive health messages. Students in Adam Mysocks service-learning class, Sign Painting and Typography, teamed up with medical and public health students to create the campaign as a class project.  Mysock is a professor of practice in drawing and painting in the Newcomb Art Department at Tulane.

Each group of artists met with a health sciences student who consulted the teams on various health issues confronting the constituents of each health clinic.

“There is a real problem educating people about health. When most people think about health messaging, they think of a brochure,” says Elyor Vidal, a graduate student in the medical school. “People tune it out. We wanted to take health information and present it in a fun and creative way.”

The students created a chalkboard in the pediatric area for the youngest patients at the Fertel clinic. It reads, “When I grow up  ______” and includes space for children to fill in the blank.  The students also created signs for the Tulane Drop-In Center and the clinic at Warren Easton Charter High School. 

Mysock says New Orleans has great tradition in sign painting. His students appreciated giving each neighborhood clinic its own hand-crafted creation. 

“It put a lot of pressure on the students — in a good way,” he says. “This was not just about getting a grade. It was about giving to the community something that it needed.”

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu