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Winona High School Theater Class Donates Paintings to UT Health Tyler Pediatrics Unit

Tyler, Texas (January 24, 2024) — Karyn Gordon, a freshman at Winona High School, remembers going to her pediatrician’s office and being comforted by the paintings and art on the walls. Now, it’s her own artwork that will provide such comfort to pediatric patients at UT Health Tyler as part of a donation Winona High School theater students made to the hospital on Wednesday. 

“When I go to the doctor, to this day I enjoy seeing the paintings in the office, so when I found out we were giving our paintings to the hospital, I was like, ‘This is so cool.’ I feel so honored,” Karyn said.

Karyn is one of 12 students in Jeffrey Clark Stokes’ theater class at Winona High School who participated in the project that led to the donation. As part of his theater tech unit, Stokes, who is originally from Gilmer and moved back to East Texas after spending the past decade working in theater and performing in Chicago, decided to have his class do something similar to a project he did while studying at Ouachita Baptist University. 

He split them into groups of three to four students, and each group started with five pieces of wood and a canvas, with the eventual goal of ending up with a complete 2-foot-by-4-foot painting matching animated images that the students had to then scale for their large pieces of artwork using a grid system. 

After cutting the wood and stretching and stapling the canvas, then came the hard part – translating the images from the small pictures onto the much larger canvases. 

“The construction work was exciting and hands-on, but then they stretched the canvas and we got to the part where they had to grid out and start replicating the image in each square,” Stokes said. “Slowly the images started coming together so they were like ‘Oh my gosh. We did this!” 

Stokes said he was so impressed by the students’ work that he wanted to come up with a way the art could continue to have impact and serve the community. When he pitched the idea of donating it to the hospital, his class jumped at the chance.

“The kids get to know what it feels like to give back to the community, to know they’ll continually bring joy to these kids who are going through a tough time,” Stokes said. 

Robin Davis, clinical manager of pediatrics at UT Health Tyler, said she is thrilled with the chance to display the students’ art on her unit to help bring cheer to her young patients. 

“Having such fun, colorful paintings on the walls really helps brighten the atmosphere and can help our patients feel more at ease during what can be a scary time for them,” Davis said. “Seeing familiar characters such as Snoopy, Pinocchio and Lilo and Stitch helps bring them comfort.”

Karyn said that was her goal and that of her classmates.

“Hopefully it will give them some type of feeling that everything is going to be OK, looking at these pictures we’ve taken so long on will help calm them down,” she said.