Melissa Conroy: wOoberry Doll Photos

Published On 07/11/2011

Location: Surgery Corridors

Inspired by her daughter’s drawings, Melissa Conroy began sewing dolls as gifts for family and friends.

The childlike dolls were an instant hit, and in September 2009 they made their public debut in Poppy’s Pants, Conroy’s first book.

Nine of Conroy’s favorite doll friends visited Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in late January to help patients create stories or artwork that could compliment the dolls. Their creations were documented by photographer Michelle East, who then developed a series of photos featured in the new Le Bonheur hospital.

“I wanted to make something that was fun, something that kids would enjoy looking at,” said Conroy. “I wanted to make characters that kids could relate to on their own level, and these dolls were designed by the way kids draw.”

The photographs of Conroy’s wOoberry doll collection can be found on the second floor leading to the operating rooms. The signature dolls are known for their playful design, circular hands and square heads, with intricate embroidering on the bodices.

Artist and author, Conroy taught herself to sew in the second grade. Her other creative outlets include painting and textile design, for which she has earned advanced degrees. Her list of alma maters includes Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Georgia and Philadelphia University where she teaches a digital design class. Her work for Le Bonheur is the first of its kind to be placed in a hospital setting.

“At Le Bonheur, it was very special the way they had each artist create work that connected to the hospital,” she said. “Each artist understood where the work was going and is communicating directly to the audience. It’s much more personal than just buying the art.”

Conroy, daughter of famous author Pat Conroy, has completed her second children’s book—the release date is yet to be announced—and has kept close ties to the hospital since her visit earlier this year.

Be on the look out for more work from Conroy in September, she said.


If you would like to inquire about underwriting any of the other pieces in the Le Bonheur Children's Hospital Art Collection, please call the Le Bonheur Children's Hospital Foundation at 901-287-6308.