Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008
By Ron Orozco / The Fresno Bee

Several artistic-minded local congregants have created religious-themed works -- and where better to display them than their respective places of worship? And what better time of the year to view them? Simple works of art with profound inspirations. Officials at places of worship say the holiday season, when many people are on vacation, is a good time to view and meditate on religious artwork.

"It makes a person well-rounded when they can be exposed to the arts," says Dave Friesen, who organizes the artwork at North Fresno Mennonite Brethren Church. "When we feel God gives us gifts, we feel it's important to have a place to display them."

Donnalee Dunne's oil paintings of orbital images of Earth are displayed on each side of the altar at The Oneness Center in northeast Fresno. Another Dunne painting hangs in the center's lobby.

Oneness with Earth A year ago, The Oneness Center held an exhibit featuring the artwork of Dunne, a part-time art and design instructor at California State University, Fresno.

The exhibit, "Quintessence: Portrait of Earth," was a big hit, says the center's minister, the Rev. Janette M. Freeman -- so much of a hit that The Oneness Center bought two of Dunne's paintings and displayed them in the sanctuary.

Dunne says she received inspiration to do the paintings "Orbital 1" and "Orbital 2" from satellite images of Earth that she studied for a master's degree in computer art and painting at Fresno State around 2000. The paintings are dominated by splashes of red, yellow and orange, and feature rectangles and fabrics that create texture.
Dunne says her goal is to create "illusions, moods and atmospheres" in her work.
"I wanted to paint a portrait of Earth, different aspects from the physical to what is considered inside, the magma and all," she says. "It's an overview of what the Earth is going through. We are here just a short time, yet the Earth is alive, it's pulsating, and it's vibrant.

"We are but a small part of the whole universe. It's just a vast spiritual connection. It's connected by energy, by magnetism. We may not be able to paint the things we can't see, but we can feel them."

Freeman says Dunne's paintings help visitors at The Oneness Center to experience a spiritual connection.

"Everything speaks to how life flows -- one life in the middle of everything," Freeman says. "The universe is connected. It speaks to oneness, life, energy and movement. Her work is very spiritual."

Donnalee Dunne with her artwork at The Oneness Center.