Not only did he focus his final document on J. Andre Smith’s role in the war, Van Horn’s find also resulted in his being asked to design a new, permanent exhibition at the Maitland Art Center in Florida.
Van Horn’s discovery showed the steadfast leadership of J. Andre Smith as he guided the “Art Squad” engaged to document the Great War. Smith operated under the belief that the Art Squad’s role was to faithfully create historical documentation of the war through their works of art. However, others felt the true purpose of the Art Squad was to roll out propaganda for use in the government’s ongoing struggle in the battle of public opinion. Smith’s perspective won out and, for the 8 months they were engaged before the end of WWI, the Art Squad’s drawings revealed the unsensational business side of war.
For example, Smith admired the soldiers’ complacency around death, and documented soldiers relaxing in the bombed building remains as if the war “was a thousand miles away and not just the other side of the next building."( J. André Smith, In France with the American Expeditionary Forces (New York: A. H. Hahlo, 1919), 59.)
The scope of this primary source is so vast that Daniel Van Horn was able to use only a small part of it for his final document, and is continuing his research into Andre Smith to develop a complete biography. Based on his serious academic scholarship and successful museum exhibit of the life and work of Smith, Van Horn has been approached about other research and book opportunities.