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Inspired by faith

Artist's work has drawn interest from audiences including the pope.

June 30, 2010|By Michael J. Arvizu, michael.arvizu@latimes.com

Micheline "Micha" Abounassar, 29, has in the last 24 years received a lot of attention for her artwork.

Her paintings have been shown to cardinals and priests, sheriffs, mayors, politicians and even the pope. Her art has traveled from Jerusalem to Rome. But Abounassar has yet to exhibit her work in Los Angeles.

Her reasoning behind that is simple, she said: She has not been led in that direction.

A graduate of Glendale Community College and Otis College of Design, Abounassar's paintings consist mostly of religious icons, most notably, Jesus and Mary. For an international artist, Abounassar's Adams Hill home in Glendale, which she shares with her parents, is not cluttered. She spends most of her time working on her latest project or on promotion strategy with her father, Edward.

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UPS slips lie on the family dining table showing that another one of her works is on its way to some part of the world. In the corner of her desk, a television is tuned to Catholic network EWTN.

One of Abounassar's paintings, titled "The Saviour," depicts Jesus Christ. The negative space around his face is black, representing Jesus' conquest of death and darkness upon his resurrection. In his eyes is the reflection of a blue sky. The style is similar to a well-known portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in which some say her eyes reflect San Juan Diego as he kneels before her.

"It's the blue sky, without clouds," Edward Abounassar said. "This is why she did the blue eyes."

Abounassar's second painting, "Weeping Virgin Mary," depicts Mary in two states: her verbalizing the word "Yes," as in her acceptance to become the mother of God; and her sorrowful face, in mourning for her dead son. Her eyes represent two small Earths.

"The Saviour" was presented to and blessed by the pope in 2009.

"You don't have to look at it as a religious point of view," Abounassar said. "I'll make them universal to all cultures and people as a great man and a great woman who are for peace and humanity."

Abounassar seeks inspiration from the messages of people like Nelson Mandela, Ghandi and Mother Teresa, who promoted a sense of love and generosity for those less fortunate. Abounassar said her deep Christian roots have inspired her work.

"We all learn from each other," Abounassar said. "That is what I cherish the most. This is one of the most important foundations in my life."

However, Abounassar's work is not limited to religious icons. "Adam and Eve," which depicts two wild horses frolicking in a field, represents that first couple and is an example of purity of life before sin. Another painting, "La'mour en Rose," depicts a couple dancing. Abounassar painted this so the breast plate of the woman's dress is shaped like a heart.

Still, her nonreligious work revolves around a philosophy of charity and love.

"It's all learning things," Abounassar said.

Abounassar believes everyone has a special gift given by God in order to help each other. People should nurture that gift and water it, she said.

"That is how I portray that in my life, through my artwork," she said. "That's my calling. I found that calling."

Abounassar's can be viewed at her website, http://www.michasgallery.org.

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