Gulfport students use art to ease suffering at hospice

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - More than 40 Gulfport High art and photography students spent Tuesday putting the finishing touches on their masterpieces.  It is an art project with a personal touch. They are using their creative talents to help terminally ill patients who have just months to live.

"Your art work is something that could be the last thing someone sees before they pass and that's just very real. It's very rewarding," said Gulfport High senior Ashleigh Davis.

Davis and her classmates are working with the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum to decorate the Canon Hospice facility in Gulfport.

"We just wanted to comfort them and make them more at home," said Davis. "It's kind of a nature theme, because nature kind of reflects on life."

The designs are colorful and inspirational. The students made a tree sculpture, using wire for the trunk and painted glass for leaves.  They also created a mirror surrounded by embossed metallic tiles, miniature gauze sculptures for the table tops, even beaded window treatments and bulletin boards for patients to hang precious keepsakes and photos.

"They brought to bear their energy, their talents, and their sincere commitment to making the hospice a brighter, more peaceful place," said Alyce Spencer, an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Ohr-Okeefe Museum.

Some students chose to donate their favorite photographs.

"Even though they're at the point where their life is ending, the feeling that there may still be hope is always nice," said Jasmin Kirkwood.  "So I want them to see art work that's inspiring, full of hope, full of life."

The students will never look at art the same way again.

"I've always done arts, but now I'm doing it for a specific reason that will help someone else rather than just help me express myself. I can help someone else see and feel a certain thing through my art," said Kirkwood.

On Wednesday night, Canon Hospice will host a dedication ceremony to honor the Gulfport students and showcase their works of art.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.