Vail Mountain School artwork to brighten clinic |

Vail Mountain School artwork to brighten clinic

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyNurse practitioner and midwife Carol Conger, right, thanks ninth grade art students Emma Porter, left, and her art partner Nick Vossler, second from left, for their painted ceiling panels for the Eagle Care Clinic at Vail Mountain School in East Vail, Colorado.

VAIL, Colorado” Pandas, penguins and giraffes will bring a little cheer to the Edwards Eagle Care Clinic in Edwards, Colorado thanks to the work of Vail Mountain School art students.

The art students presented a series of painted ceiling panels they had worked on for weeks to the indigent care clinic, which serves the uninsured patients of Eagle County.

“You’ve made artwork that thousands of people will see,” medical technician Brett Fleisman told the students.

“Our clients really don’t have anywhere else to go,” added nurse practitioner and midwife Carol Conger. “Sometimes they wait for a very long time, and now they’ll have something to look at while they’re in the clinic.”

The examination rooms at the Edwards clinic are lit by fluorescent lighting, floored with linoleum, with clean, crisp paper covering the bed surfaces. Now, the brightly colored ceiling tiles will add life to the room, Fleisman said.

“Our clinic is pretty sterile, and health is a lot more to us than just fixing the wheels and cogs of the human body,” he said.

Pandas, giraffes and penguins

The project began when Fleisman and Vail Mountain School art teacher Slade Cogwell began discussing ways the students could do a community project.

Each art class was given a different exam room ” pediatric, maternity and family care rooms ” to paint for, and the rooms were animal-, storybook- and family-themed, said art teacher Kelly Eppinger.

Ninth-grader Hailey Vest worked on a whimsical painting of a cheery panda parent and a little panda setting under the sun, surrounded by bamboo.

The artists chose the theme because pandas are helpless and tiny when they’re born, and the mother cares for the baby until it can fend for itself.

“It really fit with the theme of family,” she said. “It’s a lot like our families because they’re always there for you, even after you’re old enough to fend for yourself. They’re still there.”

Other students painted pictures of a penguin family standing amidst snowcapped peaks, and a giraffe family framed by a huge pink heart.

The bigger picture

Hailey said the project helped the class see “the bigger picture.”

“It’s a really good feeling that this is going to mean a lot people,” she said. “Usually we’re making art for ourselves, and we’re the only ones that see it. It’s not just about you. It’s about everyone else and helping people get better.”

Conger said one goal of the project was to help the students understand how the clinic works and that there are less fortunate people in the valley.

“It’s great to try and connect quite contrasting parts of the community and bring them together,” Conger said. “It’s a good thing for those students to understand that there are many people in need.”

“Anytime we can help them see the needs of people other than themselves, it’s great,” art teacher Maren Schwartz said. “As a department, it was neat that we could be involved in this.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

Support Local Journalism