Local artist’s work used in research

Therapeutic benefits of organic art at children’s hospital

The work of Center artist David Masterson is being used in research conducted by Dr. Judy Rollins, PhD, RN, at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, DC.


Masterson, owner of Davmar Gallery in Center, developed a form, or process of art he calls “organic art,” art that “grows” with the addition of new images over a period of time. Based on Masterson’s wide collection of paintings called David’s World that he has been working on for 20 years, the series hosts a full array of animals, insects, and shapes.


“It’s a world where children can lose themselves and find magic and mystery, creating their own story (in any language) as they take in the painting,” Dr. Rollins’ press release noted.


Rollins has been investigating hospitalized children’s responses to Masterson’s David’s World series. The study, called “A Visit to David’s World,” explores the impact on hospitalized children’s joy, engagement, and well-being by interacting with organic art.


“Children can stare at a David’s World painting and be taken to a place in their own imagination where they explore paintings filled with color and images,” Rollins said. “This art is called organic art because it ‘grows.’ His concept is authentically original, as it has never been tried under a clinical study.”


In 2020, Masterson hung four of his paintings in the 7th floor main hallway at Shriners Hospital for Children in San Antonio. After the paintings had been on display for several months, he returned to surprise patients by adding personalized images, such as pets and favorite names to the landscapes.


Caught in the act one day by a child (a 6-year-old burn victim) that came out of an elevator with her dad and saw Masterson adding images, he quickly saw the opportunity and asked her name. “Joyslyn,” she told him, and he promptly added it to a new spaceship in the massive painting.


Her response, hugs, tears and ear-to-ear smiles made it clear to Masterson that he had to take this process of ‘Organic Art’ further. This was beyond art.


The paintings keep growing and have a magical quality that create images that patients can relate to in a special way. He also adds inspirational messages to encourage children to work through their therapies to reclaim their good health and childhood.


The stated purpose of the study explains how the mixed-methods grounded theory study will investigate children’s responses to an intervention using images of joyful, whimsical paintings from the series of paintings called David’s World. Study aims are 1) to determine the ability of David’s World images to attract and engage hospitalized children, 2) to describe children’s responses to an intervention that alters the painting with their personalized content, and 3) to explore the ability of this intervention to improve children’s present functioning quality of life. The overarching goal of the study is to develop an arts-based therapeutic intervention for hospitalized children everywhere.


Masterson’s Davmar Gallery is located at 132 Nacogdoches Street in Center.

The Light and Champion

137 San Augustine St.
Center TX 75935