When Mary Hay served as a substitute teacher at Salida High School, she was impressed by the artwork displayed outside Janine Frazee’s classroom.
“One piece took my breath away,” Hay said. “It was a hand-stitched face of a tiger and perfectly matched the coloration and markings of the animal. I asked if I could buy it, and Janine Frazee, the art teacher, contacted the student. But after thinking about it, I decided it should be seen by everyone.”
The artist was Sophie Lee, and thus began Hay’s journey to have the tiger seen in more places. First it was shown at a “Valley Visions” exhibition. Next it was displayed at Salida Regional Library in observance of Endangered Species Day on May 17.
The Lees decided to contribute the work to Children’s Hospital Colorado on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, where Sophie Lee was a patient as a child.
“My brother is retired from the faculty there,” Hay said, “so I made contact and arranged for the art collection staff to speak to Sophie Lee. The hospital has accepted the work for permanent placement for the children to enjoy.”
Heidi Huisjen, art coordinator for Children’s Hospital Colorado said, “We at Children’s Hospital are delighted to have Sophie’s amazing needlepoint tiger come into our permanent collection. We know the children, families and other adults will enjoy seeing Sophie’s work.”
Lee said, “I love the idea of embroidery. The first project I made was about 4 by 4 inches. I decided to go bigger with the tiger. Mary Hay saw it and fell in love with it, and I liked the idea of having it in the hospital. I want to make the kids smile and inspire them. I expect to deliver it as soon as soon as it’s framed.”
Lee is half Korean and said in Korea tigers play a big part in mythology as protectors of the people, warding off evil and keeping darkness away. The tiger is called “Suhoja,” meaning the protector.
“I want to thank all the people who helped me with this project – Mary Hay, Janine Frazee and Heidi Huisjen, the art coordinator at the hospital,” Lee said.
She plans to enter the medical field herself and is currently working at Topgen Inc., a cancer research laboratory in Buena Vista. Plans for after graduation are to study pre-med, microbiology or quantum biology.